Quaker Heritage Press > Online Texts > Works of James Nayler > What the Possession of the Living Faith is
Forasmuch as a right faith is the only ground of man's eternal happiness, and the only thing which gains the creature an entrance towards his creator, and without which it is impossible to please God, though much hath been said of it already, yet I having found by learning the true and living faith which hath the living power, different from that faith which is dead and without that power; and seeing that so many at this day are at ease in a dead faith, and their souls in the grave, in tender love thereto I am stirred up to declare something of the faith of Christ which I have found only effectual to salvation and reconciliation with God. And somewhat the rather in regard the enemy hath spread so many false reports of me touching my faith in Christ Jesus, which here I shall declare in plainness, for the satisfying of simple minds who desire to know truth rather than to reproach it; and for those who seek occasion, I choose rather to bear their reproach that are in that <71> nature, than contend therewith, for my work is not with flesh and blood, nor is it in my spirit to strive with any about words that stir up strivings and contention and edify not, but with God I strive daily, and to that of God in all I seek to be manifest which resists not evil, but seek to overcome it with good, waiting for the kingdom of God in all, and the soul's redemption out of death, and the seed out of bondage, and where that is not effected in measure, I look not to be owned, nor my witness received, though it be not of myself, but Christ Jesus in me.
And first a faith or belief I have found in the world, of which I shall say little in this place, having found indeed little in it to the salvation of life. It's a literal faith grounded1 upon the history of the Scripture touching God and Christ, and what Christ did in that temple which the Jews destroyed at Jerusalem, &c., but doth not know him in Spirit, nor believe him as his name is Immanuel to all generations, and so doth not necessarily work the believer into a conformity to that head,2 in his then walking, by his coming again in the same Spirit and power, working in them the same will, mind and affections, and obedience to the Father in their measure which was in him the example, author, worker and finisher of the true and living faith.
And of this faith (being somewhat dressed by the several opinions of men) are all the unclean spirits living in whatsoever abomination is to be mentioned in the world, all sects and opinions, or whatever may be found in all colors in these northern parts of the world, with this faith they are covered, and this is their strength, and here they take comfort to themselves against all reproof within or from without, though living openly in the greatest whoredoms against the Spirit of holiness, carnal or spiritual, that can be mentioned, even at a distance from Christ in his whole life, yet they believe Christ came to save sinners, of which they are chief, and they that are whole need not the physician, &c. And so3 the greater their wickedness is, the nearer to Christ they believe. And by this faith he that came to save people from sin and to lead out of sin both by example and Spirit, is made a cover for all filthiness of flesh and spirit, and to strengthen the heart of <72> wickedness against the life of holiness, some in one sin, some in another, but with this faith do all sorts strengthen themselves and hardens their hearts against the light of Christ and that Spirit which reproves the world of sin and convinceth of it, and would lead out of it; and hence it is that the witness of God that is holy in all is trampled under foot in all, and little regarded in any, but by this faith believed on in none to be the way to the Father, though the world have no light but it, nor is there a promise of life in any other. And this to me appears to be that faith of the devil or dead faith the apostle speaks on (James 2), though more hardened in it against God's fear, for the devils when they believe tremble at it. So this faith I leave, being judged already by its fruits with the light of Christ in every honest heart that loves holiness.
And of that faith I shall speak something in which I have found a measure of the life of Christ made manifest in my mortal body, in which life alone is the true and eternal union and atonement with the holy God, into whom no unclean thing can enter. And this is not a notion of what was done in another generation past or to come, hundreds or thousands of years distance, but that which leads to the beginning of the work of a new creature at this day, and a new birth spiritually begotten and born and brought to light, without which none can see the kingdom of God nor enter therein. And this faith doth not work by the comprehensions of brain knowledge, that because I could here conceive or declare of Christ Jesus, from the beginning to the age thereof4 in words or thoughts, that therefore I have learned him, or know him as I ought to do, or am grown up in him to a perfect man, and so to deceive others by declaring and boasting of what God hath not wrought in me, as a man may easily do and deceive his own soul, and bewitch others also, by leading them out of their measures of God's present work in them. But of the living faith which now worketh powerfully in Spirit by love thereto, the mystery whereof is holden forth in a pure conscience, working out the old leaven, purifying the heart and making all things new, judging and killing and crucifying with Christ in Spirit the works of the flesh, and casting out everything in me that is not of God, and renewing in me the things of God in their order by his mighty <73> working in me, in which the soul is raised out of the grave, and the dead restored to life, actually and not in conceit. Of the grounds and workings of this living faith I shall speak something.
And though the foundation of this faith or beginning of it was, that I did really believe in that which Christ did and suffered at Jerusalem, and that there in that vessel he bare the sins of the world, and satisfied the wrath of God for sins past, and overcame death, hell and the grave, and made way for the seed to arise in all through the whole world who would believe in his light which then shined through him to all men, wherein he might be seen to be the way, the truth and the life apparent, openly triumphing over all that had passed above the seed. And much more might be said of him there finished, all which I did believe according to Scripture, which was as an opening of me to receive him from heaven in the same Spirit and power, without which I could not have received the gift of that holy Spirit, God having so purposed from the beginning, that the covenant of eternal life and power should be received no other way but by faith in him, who in the fullness of time was there manifest in flesh, for the taking away sins past, and making a way for the resurrection of life over all, to save from sins for time to come.
The effect of which faith when in the light I first received it did turn my mind out of all my sins past, and took my mind out of them and turned me towards God, and holiness of life I then believed to attain in that faith, and receive power therein to grow up in him to his fullness and stature, which then I see no less faith could save me than the perfect faith of the Son of God, which before I had not received, but then received with such gladness of heart that it set my face and delights out of all sin towards the perfection of5 Christ in which I then believed, which was the joy then set before me; yet was not the work done and finished in me already, though (I having received the faith and hope of the Son of God, and was turned from all my former sin and my own righteousness, so that) if I had departed this body, I had died in no less faith than the holy faith of Christ Jesus, and so being turned to his Spirit out of the works of the flesh, I was turned from my sin, and so from condemnation; yet was there a great work to do <74> in me before I could witness freedom from the body of death, and the root and ground of evil removed, and the seed raised to reign, and the soul brought into the holy city, the resurrection of the dead, and fellowship in the Father and the Son, &c. And that glorious liberty of the new creature, and all things to be of God in me, as the Scriptures do witness; so this faith did not work me into a conceit of myself, glorying in knowledge, and so to become a teacher of others what I had conceived below the life, but it led me down into the obedience of the Spirit of light, to wait therein for the resurrection of life, and I came to see in that light that the motions of sin did still work from the old ground and root, and that must be removed by the power of Christ working in Spirit, and my obedience and watchfulness therein was required, and that without obedience to this faith I could not come to perfect victory over the enmity, nor the glorious liberty of the sons of God; for though this faith had turned my heart towards Christ and given me hope to attain him, yet I had not then learned him, nor was he yet formed in me, so was I led in the light of Christ to see what I had of this treasure in the earthen vessel, which I found to be in me very little, and that seed the least of all seeds, so I became little in that eye6 which told me the truth, though I had been high in my own thoughts formerly.
And so to the word of the beginning of Christ I was led, or the first principle of the doctrine of Christ, that with that which teacheth Christ I might learn Christ in every measure of him as I grew therein; so was I brought to know him that was made under the law, and to the foundation of repentance from dead works, and to doctrines of baptisms, and to eternal judgment; then came I in truth and life to see what they were doing whom the apostles exhorted to work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, after they had fully believed what Christ had done for them at Jerusalem in that vessel,7 and many other scriptures did he open to me as I learned him, which before to me was a mystery, while I learned them in meanings without the life of Christ, which then was opened by the revelation of Christ Jesus as they came to be fulfilled in me, being led by the same Spirit in that work of faith; <75> then came I to see that I through the law must be redeemed from the law, and that my redemption from it must not be by making it void, but by fulfilling of it, and till then it had power over me, and sin took occasion by it to strengthen itself in me; but as I came to grow in the Spirit and power of Christ, I was in him brought through it, it in him fulfilled, and I dead to it as it came to be fulfilled, and the words of Christ I found true: "I came not to break8 the law but to fulfill it," and it is easier for heaven & earth to pass away than one jot of the law to pass away till it be fulfilled, and I needed not a meaning to that scripture, but a fulfilling thereof in Christ Jesus. And the schoolmaster that brings to Christ I learned, & Christ formed, & the heir under tutors, before I knew the liberty of the Son of God or perfect freedom, and then I saw the Scriptures could not be broken nor wrested, but it must be learned in the life of it to salvation, which the unlearned wrest to their own destruction by meanings without life, and that it was of no private interpretation, but this one Spirit must open it all in the fulfilling thereof, and this faith in Christ Jesus only was able to make wise unto salvation of eternal life.
And then came I clearly to see Christ Jesus set before me in all things that I was to go through, in that faith which I had first received, and that the attaining of him was the hope of glory, and no hope without him; and this hope was as an anchor in all hardships and temptations, which was not a few I was led through, but all was counted little while I stood in this faith, for the hope that was in me to win Christ. And I clearly saw that notwithstanding my first faith in what he had done at Jerusalem, yet if I did not continue therein to follow the same Spirit in obedience thereto, believing therein, in all its leadings hoping to attain to Christ Jesus the end of that faith, in daily growing towards his stature and fullness, but had turned aside, or set down short of the leadings of that Spirit in the way, I had made void my hope of glory, the work of my redemption, and that which Christ did at Jerusalem (as to me) and had denied my first faith, and could not have been saved from wrath to come. That being the end of that faith committed to me, that therein I might faithfully without doubting follow him in Spirit through all trials and temptations, of which <76> way he was a perfect example in his walking in that flesh at Jerusalem, that through the Scriptures I might have hope, seeing he went the same way before me there in which he now leads, and that therein I might see him to be the same to all generations as he was there, and in his saints that followed him. And as they exhorted one another to look unto him in their travel, who was the author and finisher of their faith, and to consider him as an example who endured such contradictions of sinners against himself, lest they should be weary of suffering and faint in their minds, and so their faith and hope was strengthened; so also I looking to the same in him and also in them after him, my faith and patience might be doubled, and my obedience made without doubting, and my hope firm unto the end, which end was the winning Christ in me the hope of glory, the great mystery of faith, which is hid from all till the revelation of Christ Jesus, and so when the saints and apostles had Christ revealed in them they were able ministers of him and had the mystery opened, and preached it without doubt, that mystery of godliness, which was great yet hid from the world, but to them without all controversy, God manifest in flesh, not God flesh, but manifest in flesh, which mystery of faith they held in a pure conscience, and so I knew my faith to be the same faith once delivered to the saints, and the good fight of that faith I came to know, and that faith which overcomes the world, which hath the promise and inheritance of eternal life, which all that go back from denies the faith of Christ and sets up a faith without Christ which is not the faith of Christ, and so in the learning of Christ I came to see the faith of Christ from faith to faith, and the faith of devils: the living working faith, and the dead faith without works; and I find that Christ never believed that he9 could never be perfect nor overcome the devil, nor overcome sin, it was never the faith of Christ to make void the law of his Father unfulfilled in him; it was never his faith to revenge evil but to overcome it with good, it was never his faith to respect persons, or that he could commit sin and not be the servant10 of of sin; it was never his faith to sue, contend or fight or persecute <77> any, to judge for rewards, or preach for hire, or any way to serve the mammon of this world; it was not his faith to observe his own will, his own times, or the world's customs, but to observe his Father in all things, and only what he received from him that he did, and could do nothing of himself, he never believed them to be children of God who said and did not.
And much suchlike things as these were never by him believed, but is the world's faith to uphold them in sin & lusts, who are enemies to the faith of Christ which presents perfect to God by working out such evils. All which I came to see, not by man but in the revelation of Christ as in his faith I learned him, growing into his faith, into him and his life therein made manifest in my body. So I see what is his in truth as the truth is in Jesus, and what is the world's and but called his to oppose him. And I see that which loves the things of this world to be none of his love, nor that his joy that takes pleasure in visible11 things, nor that his liberty which is in the works of the flesh, nor that his peace that is in sin, nor that his patience that seeks its own revenge, nor that his glory that's in pride, nor that his worship which stands in carnal things, nor that his honor that's sought of men, nor that his knowledge that's after the flesh, nor that his fear that is taught by the precepts of men; these are in the world and not in him, but have only got the name to be his, but are enemies to his life, and were never begat of his Father nor learned in the Son; all which and much like stuff I came to see the deceit of, by that truth and simplicity I found in Christ, contrary to the will of man.
And so in the life of Christ I have learned to know the growth of the faith of Christ and the riches of it, and the end of it, which is Christ Jesus in all its working; and I also know the world's faith, its uncleanness whose end is not to attain the holiness of Christ in life, but would live in the world's delights and have Christ for a cover, and be saved by the righteousness of another, which they have no mind to walk in themselves. And so that faith works not by love which loves not the life of Christ, but are enemies to his cross, minding earthly things, and this is the earthly faith, but the living faith works by love to holiness of <78> life, and therefore purifies the heart, and the mystery of it stands in a pure conscience within themselves that have it, and not in telling and comprehending what was in another, for the devils believes the holiness that was in Christ and can preach it, but cannot inherit it, because they love not to live the life of it, and by this I know them both forever, and all that prove them in the life of Christ shall witness with me, the end of the one is the life of Christ in which himself walked, and the same obedience of the same Spirit to the same Father by the same power, according to the proportion of faith received from God, which faith is from above, and so lays hold on heavenly things for its strength, and so brings forth heavenly fruits; the other professeth and promises great things, but ends in the world and minds earthly things, and doth not purify the heart, nor believes ever to attain the life of Christ, his stature or fullness, but counts it an error in such as press after such attainments, and so the end of the conversation of one is Christ Jesus to hold forth in life and power, the same yesterday and today and forever. The end of the other is a liberty to sin here while they can take any pleasure in it, and sanctification and salvation when they are dead, and according to the end of each faith so it works, for it's impossible for him that cannot believe holiness to work holiness, but according to each man's faith so must he inherit in this world and that which is to come.
And in the workings and attainments of this living powerful faith I have found several measures according to my growth therein, from the word of the beginning of Christ or the first principle of Christ, and the fullness, age12 and stature of Christ, as betwixt a babe & a man grown in strength, & much working in Spirit I found betwixt faith received of Christ Jesus, & Christ learned in me; for though I received the faith of his fullness in what he was at Jerusalem, in his flesh there at once, yet had not I so learned him in Spirit & life in my mortal flesh nor put him on at once, but in the light of faith I saw I was so to run as to win him before I could put him on, wherein I came to see and know myself begotten again in him by faith towards God, who is the way to God, in which way I came to see the begotten of the Father manifest in measure in me in the pure image of a holy child, separate from <79> the fleshly sinful seed, or Christ formed in me as the Scriptures witness, and when I did behold his pure image and his pure mind and nature so far contrary to my own, yet then was not he in his kingdom nor all things put under his feet, nor could I say that Jesus was then Lord in me, but by the Spirit's working by this faith I had received, and in hope thereof was I made to endure the loss of all things, and to deny all things that ever this holy Spirit did war against in me which might any way oppress this holy plant or hinder its growth, owning his judgment in the light, upon whatever was in my heart or affections but him alone, though never so much gain in my account in the world, which judgment being owned & consented to against myself and all my self-lovers, therein was I parted from them in judgment, and so then was they subdued by the powerful workings of that Spirit and put under his feet, and I set free from them to arise with him above them, being brought from under them; and this was not done all at once, but in order as he appeared in the light to manifest every particular evil. And as that faith I had received wrought by love to him a consent in my spirit to his just judgment upon them, and I made willing to give them up to the fire and to come out of them and join to him in the execution, lest he should consume me with them as it must have been had I stayed in them, and here I found the benefit of the light which goes before his face to prepare his way, and the salvation of faith which saved me through hope of him, that I was not destroyed in my sins, which faith and hope gave me an entrance within the veil, or a hiding place in him while the indignation was over, which was to pass upon the man of sin.
And so a voice was heard in the wilderness calling out of sin, into a way I knew not but as the light of his covenant led me in the spirit of Elias13 turning my heart towards him, that he might not smite the earth with a curse at his coming, in which way ere I came into the kingdom of Christ my pure rest I met with many hardships and great travails, and many temptations and trials within and without, but the greatest enemies was yet within me, which would upon every hardship be tempting with unbelief to destroy this faith and hope, which was all that I had set before me to encourage me to endure such hardships, and to follow the light in a <80> way I had not known, and to walk in the clouds to meet the Lord, and to leave my former knowledge and wisdom and glory and riches to go in a way I had not walked, and to abide such assaults on every hand, every foot, the world which I was called out of ready to overtake me and compass me about and to turn me back again into what I had seen and enjoyed, behind me, ever seeking to persuade me that I should never attain to him that was set before me in the faith and hope. Then come I clearly to see that though I had received the faith of Christ as a shield in this war, by which I was saved that the wrath of God took me not away in these temptings and murmurings and reasonings and doubtings which did arise in the fleshly part, yet the purchased possession was not yet redeemed for me to enjoy at present,14 though I had heard and believed the gospel of salvation and was sealed with the holy Spirit of promise till I came to be builded up with Christ for an habitation of God through the Spirit. And I found by daily experience that my salvation was not complete so long as my soul was subjected under any earthly lust or passion, nor the war over, but as by the mighty working of God in me by that Spirit this came to be subdued under the feet of Christ, and the soul set above it with him to reign in the heavenly place; so was my salvation nearer than when I believed, for the soul is not safe while sin lives or the flesh lusts, for that wars against the soul, and every sin wounds it, and this shall all know who are not past feeling, whatever their faith be touching Christ Jesus or what was wrought in another; whilst sin defiles the soul it is not safe, nor the honest heart hath peace and rest, for the rest and peace is placed in the holy city where comes no unclean thing, into which the soul enters not till that all righteousness be fulfilled upon earth, & the soul singled from all corruption & have put on immortality, & death swallowed up in victory, when the sting is taken away, which is sin, & the strength of sin, which is the law, which is not taken away but where it is fulfilled, there only grace reigns through righteousness, and this I found to be truth as the truth is found in Jesus, as I came to learn him and put him on by faith which I had <81> believed; and I see the folly of such as would make void the law by talking of faith and grace where sin is yet standing, and the soul taken captive therewith, which I had often sought peace therein to myself, but could not inherit liberty to my soul any other way but as it came to be purified in obedience through the Spirit.
And this work was not wrought in me by the knowledge of Christ after the flesh, but as I came to learn him in Spirit, for spiritual wickedness had taken my soul captive, and by the Spirit it must be sanctified and set free. And I came to see that if I had been in his company here on earth as long as his disciples were in the flesh, and seen as much as they did, and heard from his own mouth, I should have been short of this work as they were, in whom the child was unborn when he went away in the flesh, and they knew not what spirits they were of, until he came again to them in Spirit and was revealed in them; then could they preach the resurrection of the dead and the soul's redemption, and desired to know him no more after the flesh, when once they had received him in Spirit, but preached Christ within the hope of glory, who till then looked for an outward kingdom and glory, until they had received his promise, he that dwelleth with you shall be in you, I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you; the world seeth me no more, but ye see me, and because I live ye shall live also; at that day ye shall know that I am in my Father and you in me and I in you. And this was his promise, whom15 they received, whom the world seeth no more, whose expectations are carnal, neither can any see the kingdom of heaven but who are born of this Spirit and heirs of his life; and he that hath the Son hath life, and he that hath not the Son hath not life, but the wrath of God abides upon him whatever he may say he believes, and none hath the Son but as they receive this Spirit and are led by this Spirit and born thereof. And this I found also, that this Son of God doth not appear in any within or without,16 but as he conforms them to his own image, which he hath always borne in this world, as saith the Scripture, When he shall appear we shall be like him, who shall change our vile bodies and make them like his glorious body, <82> from glory to glory by the same Spirit. And herein we have boldness in the day of judgment, because as he is so are we in this present world; and this is not obtained with thoughts of believing without, but by a lively working17 power, which works out the earthly image and nature and conforms to the heavenly in that spiritual birth which is not of flesh and blood, nor could flesh and blood ever discern it in whom it was, but ever hated it in whom it hath appeared in all ages. Which is of a shining nature where it is begotten of the Father and cannot be hid where it is formed, but by his fruits gives light to the world contrary to the world's ways, showing of his coming to judgment against the deeds of darkness. And this heavenly begetting of the Father is to be holden forth in that clear image of the Father, according to every several measure as he grows therein without mixture, that all may see that he is not of this world, who also takes them out of this world as he grows in any or they in him; forth of the world they must go bearing his reproach, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled; they are not of this world, even as I am not of this world, and this is the world's light and condemnation, even his coming. And so I find that faith which joins to the world where it is, and doth not overcome the world, is not the faith of Christ, nor lays hold on the power of Christ, though faith may believe the history of the Scriptures concerning Christ, which faith sets not up the kingdom of God in the heart, and casts out the world there; that faith saves not the soul from the pollution of the world through lust, and so is but a conceit18 of salvation and not the power of salvation, as saith the Scriptures: whosoever is born of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even your faith; and the faith which works not thus, is like a body without a spirit which is dead. But the living faith that stands in Christ Jesus, that Spirit purifies the heart and conscience, and makes toward God in Christ the example in all good things, overcoming whatever would let the appearance of Christ in his temple, or hinder the bringing forth his virtues which is believed to be in him, to the utmost of whatever he hath received of the Father for such believers, who believes not in a lie, but in the truth and power of God as it is in Christ Jesus, and hath been declared in Scriptures, <83> not for a discourse, but for an inheritance of life, of whose fullness we all receive according to our faith, till his coming and we be complete in him, and he in us; and so not come short of the glory of God, the end of our faith and conversation, that to the world he may be manifest in life and power to be the same that ever he hath been, though he have appeared in several forms in the flesh,19 yet one in Spirit to make up a complete body.
And therefore we find those who were of this faith witnessed Christ present (which the world's faith could never receive under any form or profession, but counted it blasphemy, and that Spirit the spirit of the devil). And so Isaiah witnessed this child born to them that so believed in his time, who was the mighty God, the everlasting Father, &c., whose name they knew to be Immanuel, and this was before he appeared in that temple at Jerusalem; and Ezekiel was called the son of man before that time also; and Paul said he was revealed in him and spoke in him and wrought in him, and in his flesh that which was behind of the afflictions of Christ was to be filled up for his body's sake which is the church, and to whom he forgave anything in his time, he forgave it in the person of Christ; and many more might be noted who confessed the same Christ in them present, both before and after his time at Jerusalem, which testimony could never be received (by the wisdom of the world) in his temples,20 before nor then, nor since to this day, for the god of this world being king in the heart, and having blinded the eye of the mind that should see his spiritual glory through the light of the gospel, he persuades the world that he is either past or to come, but never present; and as many as are brought to confess him before men find it so at this day, who are hated of all men for his name's sake, that the Scriptures may be fulfilled and his testimony finished.
And this faith which confesseth him present is that which the world cannot bear nor receive, who will preach him themselves at a distance, what he was and will be, but this faith cannot reach his coming at present in any measure to grow to21 his appearance now, nor will this faith ever give an entrance into his kingdom upon earth, nor the holy rest, nor is this the faith of Christ (that <84> puts him thus afar off) which fills with all the fullness of God.
And by what I have learned, this is clear to me forever without any more controversy, that the faith that admits of sin is not Christ's faith, nor hath any share or possession in him; that faith which is not holy came not from God and so cannot build up to God; that is not saving faith that doth not save from sins but is deceiving faith which deceives the soul and suffers lust to defile it and destroy it, and so brings it under condemnation, by believing lies, and so letting in sin upon the soul by consent, persuading that it cannot be otherwise; and so gives the devil victory and the world victory, and the flesh victory and sin victory over the soul, which should give the soul victory over all. And what greater deceit can there be to the soul than this is? And therefore forever that which I have seen and learned do I declare openly, that this is the deceiving faith, & indeed rather unbelief than the faith of Christ, which makes way for the god of this world to reign and act in things contrary to the life of Christ in the creature, and the life of the soul; and that faith which gives way to the least sin is not the faith of Christ, whose work and coming is to destroy the works of the devil and redeem the soul from sin, and the least measure of that faith that stands in his life overcomes the world and sin in that measure; and he that commits sin goes out of that faith and acts against it. And a lying faith I have found that to be which persuades the soul of freedom from condemnation but gives it not freedom from sin which is the cause of condemnation, and all shall witness this with me now or hereafter, that where sin hath power there death hath power, and the grave and hell and condemnation hath power also, for these are the wages of sin, then shall you say you were deceived who believed the contrary. And may not such truly be said to be past feeling indeed, who can commit sin and feel no condemnation for it already? And this is the effect of their false faith, to harden themselves against the faithful witness of God in their own conscience; and the seared conscience hath made shipwreck of the faith of Christ, and the doctrine of devils preaches the faith of devils to give way to the works of the devil, which all sin is, from the least to the greatest; and he that pleads for it is a father to it, and he that commits it a servant, and may look for the wages thereof <85> if he repent not, notwithstanding he believe the contrary.
And many may feel this truth at this day, who have a long time believed with this faith, deceiving their own souls day after day, believing they shall not be condemned, when they are condemned already in their own hearts, and feel the weight of sin daily pressing their souls, and burdening the pure conscience, and the fear of death and sin keeps their souls still in bondage, and lies upon them all their lives, and yet they will force themselves to believe contrary to holy faith and a good conscience that they are saved and redeemed, and thus make shipwreck of saving faith and a good conscience, by believing a lie contrary to their own daily feeling, no other thing to encourage them therein but this persuasion, which suits well with such as take pleasure in unrighteousness, which persuasion comes not of God, but condemned by that of God in themselves; and this is the state of many at this day, though some there be whose conscience are seared, and feel not this witness living in them, though their damnation slumbereth not, though they have lost their calling and election also.
And this have I learned in Christ: that there is a great difference both in effect and nature betwixt that faith which is the gift of God and that faith which men make to themselves; for that which is the gift of God is of his own nature, clean, pure and perfect as are all his gifts, and so it works naturally the work and will of God in all who receive it freely and mix nothing with it to darken it or stop his working; and by this faith I am saved from sin and condemnation and begotten to the Father thereof in Christ Jesus, which faith is not of myself but is the gift of God, to perfect holiness in the sight of God, and whatever is done in this faith is not sin, and whatsoever is against this faith or not of this faith is sin and brings condemnation, and this faith approves not of it. And if I act nothing doubtingly nor against this holy faith, in this faith I am justified in my own heart and my own conscience kept clean, and I approved in God's sight, and I have boldness through the obedience of faith in the day of judgment, that it is not my own work but the righteousness of faith which is in Christ Jesus, and this effect hath saving working faith, and this is its nature and grace.
But another faith I have found which is not so in nature or effect, being not freely received from above, but is feigned and hath its ground here below, and its ends also. The earthly man in <86> his wisdom from the letter, reason or comprehensions, sets up an opinion or image in his mind touching God or Christ or religion, worship, doctrine or manners, or any other thing, and then looking upon the likeliness22 of it in the reasoning part gathers strength to believe it must needs be so, and so forms a faith in himself. And though this faith be not perfect when he hath formed it and made it with all his strength, but many things in Scriptures and the practice of the saints (but especially that of God in his own conscience) will not suit with it, yet the strong man being above in the strength of his comprehension, forceth a faith against all these, and causes all to bow under it; so this faith brings not forth the birth of Christ, nor his pure image and life, neither in matter of worship nor manners, but what he may imitate Christ and the saints in worship and keep the world, and escape the cross, and save his life and credit and glory there, that he will conform to and glory in, and for the rest he believes it concerns not him now in all things at this day so to walk as they did. And as this faith is not perfect in worship, so in practice also; for that evil he is not addicted to he condemns in all, but that which is in his own heart and eye, and brings him profit and pleasure, that he will cover, and believes it may stand with true belief at this day though formerly it could not. And this is the faith made after man and not after God, and so23 serves in respect of persons, times and things, but bows not all these forever to worship in Spirit, nor brings them under the foot of Jesus that Spirit, but being earthly by nature hath earthly effects, and God doth not own that with his power, nor goes forth with that which man makes, but with his own gift, which is good and perfect in every measure thereof. And this also I have learned in Christ Jesus, and declare to all that seek faith in him: that I never received any measure of this faith of Christ in vain, but whatever I acted or suffered therein, from the least measure till this day, in it I prevailed, against whatever the light of the Spirit led me out24 therein, and a shield I have found it, and a growth in it towards Christ Jesus in every work of it, wherein I have stood single to the end, however tempted or tried before the end appeared, yet in the end of that faith I was ever a conqueror <87> through the Spirit, and whoever proves it to the end in singleness of heart shall be witness with me herein, with a cloud of witnesses that have gone before, who by this holy faith have prevailed over the powers of sin and entered into the holy rest, who have not sought their own kingdom but the kingdom of Christ.
And only this pure faith which works towards the appearance of Christ in all actions and sufferings is that which orders all things in their place and time, and fits all relations for his appearance therein to glorify God, for God is not glorified in anything upon earth but in which25 the Son appears, who is the express image and glory of God, and in whom alone he reveals himself and the glory of his judgments and mercy; the grace and truth of God is in his face in whomever he appears. And so every measure of the heavenly faith works towards the heavenly appearance, and the earthly faith to the earthly appearance. And so faith in God is that which works effectually by love to the image and life of God in this world, which is seen only in his spiritual begettings, which being believed in and set above shines forth in every measure showing the virtue and glory of the Spirit of God; but the feigned earthly faith admits of some earthly thing in the heart for its end, in love to which it works disobedience to the Spirit, and so comes short of the glory of God, for it cannot hold forth the fruits of the Spirit to glorify God with an earthly lover in the heart, nor can one faith serve God and Mammon; so he that loves the things of this world is God's enemy, whose faith withstands the appearance of Christ in his actions or sufferings, and so withstands the glory of God which therein should be manifest to all men, and this is that faith which ever of old hath put him afar off, yet gets the form and words to withstand the life and virtue. And of this sort they are of whom the apostle speaks, having a form of godliness, but deny the power of godliness, who ever was the greatest enemies to the coming of Christ, being not of the faith of Christ, nor of the Spirit of Christ, but being from below, withstands his coming from above to be brought forth in his virtue or worshiped in his Spirit; this is antichrist.
And this spirit and this faith it is that wrests the Scriptures to seduce from Christ and destroy the way of his coming; and to <88> that end what Christ really commands to be brought forth of his life and virtue in real appearance, this spirit serves himself with a meaning instead of serving Christ with real actual obedience. And so his birth is a meaning instead of the life of Christ, and this he sets to oppose that life, lest it should be born into the world; as for instance, when Christ saith in Scriptures, him that smiteth thee on the one cheek offer him the other, and him that sues thee and takes thy coat, forbid him not thy cloak also, and him that takes away thy goods ask them not again, resist not evil, but overcome evil with good,26 and love them that hate you, and many suchlike commands which Christ means really and indeed, and led an example in himself; and whoever receives the same Spirit, it moves to the same things as it grows in any, and being obeyed will bring forth the same fruits, to glorify the Father thereof to all generations, which Spirit waxeth not old, nor in its fruits barren, where it is really received in the faith thereof and obeyed. But saith this other faith in the earthly spirit, Christ did not mean as he spoke; you must not take him literally; those words must have a spiritual meaning, and this spiritual meaning of his is to devour the life of this obedience both in letter of Christ and Spirit of Christ, and to set up a subtle meaning without the life of Christ and contrary to his example, and this he will have to take place in all, both against the plain words of Christ, his example in his walking, and the working of his Spirit in others; & if he cannot destroy this faith and fruit before it be brought forth, then his work is to render him a high blasphemer, in whom this child is born and brought forth to light, and counts it high presumption for any to witness the life of Christ in them by bringing it forth into the world, yet himself will preach Christ in him, and the life of Christ in him, and the Spirit of Christ in him, and his body the temple of God, &c., because he finds these words in Scripture; but if any worship in that temple so as to believe and obey unto life openly, that he cannot own without a meaning instead thereof, and so he sets the form to deny the power, and Christ's words he wrests to deny his coming. And how long this faith hath professed him to come <89> (and his life and glory at his coming) in its own carnal comprehensions, many may witness: but is never like to receive him in the same life and Spirit and power in which he ever appeared, and so to that generation is he ever to come, but never present, further than to make a cover for sins past and present, and an encouragement for sin to come; and thus the devourer turns the best of things into a lie in all that believes him, that he may keep Christ and the soul from their present union, which he could not long do but by consent of the creature, there being that27 of God in everyone which daily draws towards him, where it is not quenched by believing lies, whereby such as receive not the truth in the love of it comes to be damned, as it was in the days of old, and a strait passage I have found into the way of truth and life, which misseth all his subtle pretenses, and I have seen his words true who saith few there be that find it, the enemy being every way ready to meet them that seek with a shadow, meaning, or some deceit to believe instead of the substance, handling the words of God deceitfully, using the gifts of God to withstand the life of the giver, and turning grace into lascivious liberty.
And thus have I learned in the light of the world, that in my turning towards him at his reproof when I knew him not, and believing in his light whom I had not seen, I found that faith given which did declare the righteousness of God in him, wherein he perfectly walked upon earth, both in doing and suffering, which being turned towards, I found the propitiation that God had sent forth, through faith in his blood to declare his righteousness for the remitting of my sins past, that God might be just, who could28 not have passed by my sins past, had he not accepted his sufferings, nor I have29 had liberty from sin past to have followed him, nor could I have been accepted therein, but in the faith and hope of the same righteousness; so God was full in justifying, and his forbearance magnified towards me therein, and in turning to this righteousness of his declared in the light of faith and hope, my face was set towards God's righteousness in Christ Jesus to be attained for life and salvation for time to come to walk in, and so being turned towards God, all my sins past was behind me, and <90> God's righteousness before me, and so from henceforth was I to be found in God's righteousness walking in a measure of it, and in the faith and hope of the fullness of Christ and attainment of God for mine inheritance. And this great redemption I found in Christ Jesus at that day was in such things as these following: as first his calling of me with his light, his holding forth to me his life and suffering, which was so holy that I could not but confess to them, his turning me towards the same in hope thereof by believing, his begetting a mind in me towards that same life, and the increase of his light that way to lead me, and the setting of me free from the wrath of God for all my sins of ignorance past, which else had laid upon me as a weight or chain, binding me that I could not have walked the way of his light, &c.
But I do not say that if I turned to commit sin again, that that sin was cast behind my back also. I learned otherwise; I found that sin then before my face greater than the rest, and stood in my way to God, and stopped me from following his light or growing in his life that I could no way escape it but by repenting of it, and receiving the just sentence of condemnation in myself, and bearing his indignation, till he that wounded me for it healed me again, which I never found but as I turned from the evil with my whole heart, and accepted the punishment till the advocate did arise to intercede, whose blood I had trampled on and whose precious life I had pierced, and his holy Spirit grieved, by turning away from his leadings.
Nor do I say that all my sins which formerly I had committed, of which I had been convinced by the light of the world, when I was in the world before I believed it to be sufficient, that they was wholly taken away as my sins of ignorance was, for this I found that God in this was just and merciful: merciful in that he did not lay them all at once before me lest they should have pressed me down that I could not have followed the light nor gotten any strength, but must needs have perished under them had he not spared. And just I have found him also: for as they were not committed all at once against the light of his Spirit, so he hath at one time or other visited for them, and laid them before me, yet not all at once, nor no way so heavy as those committed after I believed and gave up myself to follow the light; and yet to an <91> account he hath brought me for them. And coming to feel the terrors of God, I have learned to fear, and love, and have found the ground and rise and deceits of that faith that believes Christ to have taken away the sins of believers past, present and to come, with which many at this day make merry over the witness of God, and the just slain in them; and that scripture I have learned without a meaning: if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth there remains no more sacrifice for sin, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation to devour the adversary, though none know how but he that comes to it, in the fulfilling, and then shall be seen he that's born of God sins not, and he that believes is born of God; but he that sins turns his back both on the faith and birth that is towards Christ, and becomes adverse thereunto in his work, whatever he says he believes, and this I have found an everlasting truth whatever men believe or imagine, that no longer than a man keeps his face towards the light of God, no longer is his sins cast behind his back, whether they be sins past, present, or to come, but if he turn from God's righteousness, his own iniquities will rise and meet him, both new and old, and in vain doth such believe they are then blotted out of God's sight, whose eye shows him his way in which he then walks and condemns him for it in his own heart.
Nor was the ground and root of sin removed so soon as my mind was turned by the light from sin towards God, but the motions thereof I found, and the lust seeking to go forth to its objects, to bring in to conceive sin again afresh. That ground was but removed as I grew in Christ and he in me, and as I came to learn him that was in the beginning before sin was, who was learned in faithful following and serving of his Spirit, in watching, in fastings, in prayers, and in all spiritual wrestlings, as I came to be led into with the light, in which warfare I came to see the hardship of him that will be a soldier of Christ Jesus, and the baptisms into his death, the slothful servant and the faithful, and their reward and the parables and figures of the kingdom opened, as that Spirit grew in me which interprets the Scriptures in the life and opens the sealed mysteries thereof in their season, as they come to be fulfilled, and so I came to the gift of the Scriptures by inspiration, which only profits to the perfecting of the man of God, which the man of this world not having learned wrests to <92> his own destruction, getting the words of them in the earthly part, before they be fulfilled in his heart through the Spirit, and such receive them not by inspiration, nor the gift of the Holy Ghost.
And in this journey I have seen the slothful servant overtaken with a fault which he had once cast behind him, and never intended to join to again, of which the diligent servant is kept free, and I have seen the wages of each servant according to his diligence in that which he hath of God betrusted in him, and not by his own strivings in the thoughts of himself, his worth or wisdom. And in diligent hearkening and obeying of the Spirit have I found the right faithfulness towards God, though getting knowledge be highly esteemed with men, and I have found that as I have the Spirit manifest in me to profit withal, so the times of my profiting is only in his hand, and my waitings upon him when he moves not is my reasonable service, and a profiting time to me as if he moved, though I see it not, and this I found a great cross to my hasty will, which indeed is the true worship in Spirit, which when I knew not this Spirit to hearken and bow to, and obey and observe in all things as his will leads, I worshiped I knew not what, and my fear towards God then was taught by the precepts of men, and I was not taught of the Lord, not being born of that Spirit; and so all the children of the Lord are taught of the Lord, and as many as are led by the Spirit of God they are the sons of God, these scriptures I then could read and understand without meanings, not by that which my wisdom taught me, but which the Holy Ghost taught me, and the Scriptures thus learned and received was no more a notion to be lost, but a possession, and I came to have an inheritance therein amongst them that are sanctified in all ages, & no subtle man could either steal them or change them, or any way beguile me of the truth of them by wresting them, nor take away my comfort I had in them, my comfort and fellowship therein being in the same spirit and life that gave them forth; and the word of God thus grew and endureth forever, and the Spirit of truth that leads into all truth endures forever, and the seed of God is one therein to all generations, and that is one which perfects the spirits of all just men, and God himself is judge over all, and leader of all by his own begettings in all that enter into this rest of the faithful, which remains to all his children, out of which false faiths and disobedience shuts themselves.<93>
And that which declares the righteousness of God for remission of sins past, and for an inheritance against sin for time to come, have I found to be faith without falsehood, which righteousness though in the faith and hope beyond declaring, yet inherited but as the virtues that are in Christ Jesus comes to be received in the life of them. And that faith which hath not that righteousness for its ground and end, and the virtues and several measures of the growth of Christ for its life and increase, that I have found upon trial to be a feigned fancy after man's mind and not after God's measures. And he that saith he hath faith in God and is without the hope of this righteousness for his inheritance, or saith he hath Christ further than he hath his virtues for his life and growth towards this inheritance, when he comes to be weighed with truth will be found too light to stand in judgment, or abide the fire, or to dwell with everlasting burnings. The trial of that faith will leave him without faith; then shall it be read as it is written, "When the Son of Man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?"
Grace reigns through righteousness, and the law through transgression; and he that says he is from under the law, and the transgressor alive, he makes void the law against himself, but is under it in the account of God.
For the seed or image of God being fallen, the transgressor is above to whom there is no grace nor life promised, who hath no true obedience but for self-ends, upon this is the law added till the promised seed arise. And a schoolmaster the law is till it bring to Christ, who of the woman is made under the law, who takes upon him the seed after the flesh, the soul to redeem from under the transgressor, that the natural plant of God may grow; so who can witness the teachings and chastisings of the law to bring him so low till he come under the seed, so as the seed be set above the head of the transgressor and have bruised it, and so taken away the strength of sin, there the strength of the law is taken away also. And as the soul is raised up through the law, the law being fulfilled by the seed through the Spirit, so it arises above the law into the kingdom of grace, which reigns through righteousness, <94> and not by making void the law; for the grace is to the seed, and the law to the transgressor; and as these reign in the creature, so is he under the law or under grace, for the law hath power over the man of sin as long as he lives; then is the seed of the promise in bondage, but he being dead by which the seed is held captive, the seed rises under grace, which as it rises through the law fulfills it, and being fulfilled it loses its strength, as sin dies, and so hath no more power, the law being the strength of sin till it be fulfilled by the seed through the Spirit; so he that is dead to sin is free from sin and under grace; and he that casts off the law while he is alive that sins, makes void the law against himself.
So he that's under grace is dead to sin, and dead to the law which is the strength of sin, and sin hath no more dominion over the soul, the power of it being subdued, which was the law unfilfilled; but where the law is made void, the strength of sin yet remains, and the law will overtake them in the end.
And he that learns this in the death and resurrection, and eternal life, shall in this work learn what the transgression is, and how the law is added upon him, and how it is the strength of sin in him, but not in the seed, and what it is that makes the entrance through the law, and how grace comes to abound where sin hath abounded, and to reign through righteousness unto eternal life.
So where the transgressor is slain there the law is at an end and fulfilled, and the natural30 plant of God brings forth against which there is no law, but the law is against the man of sin, and the man of sin against the law as long as he lives, and power it will have over him, and one jot of it will not pass away till it be fulfilled. And he that would cast off the law and make it void is far from grace, but in him that fulfills the law doth grace and truth abound.
Wouldst thou know the way of life from that knowledge which devours the life; then be no longer as the wild ass's colt, but take up the yoke of the Son, in whom thou sayest thou believest, that the life of faith thou may feel and know, for only in the obedience is the life made sure to thee of what thou believest, <95> and thereby is faith and knowledge made perfect.
But until thou attain power for obedience of faith, thou art dead and knows but words, in which thy faith stands without life which accomplishes nothing but will arise to condemn thee when thy time is out.
Therefore in all thy seeking, mind that which worketh in a lowly mind, calling thee into the obedience of what is there made manifest in the begettings of the Father, and not in the conceivings of the brain, but in the Son. For in the brain-knowledge the boaster rules who glories in the wisdom of words, but not in the words of life; but in the obedience of the Son is the Father known and glorified in such as walk in the Spirit and not in the wind, whose praise is of God, and their lives hid with him from all knowledge but what is revealed in the obedience of the Son. So from man you may learn the knowledge of words, but the knowledge of life is only31 begotten of God; so he that hath the Son hath life, not of the disobedient nature, for the only32 begotten of God is conformable to him that begetteth him in all things through obedience.
So feeling thy measure of the begettings of God, in it be obedient, and seek not to be above it in anything, lest the enemy thereby get power in thee to puff up thy mind in thy knowledge above thy life, which devours the life.
Therefore as thou feels faith, love, meekness, gentleness, patience, or any godliness move in the Spirit, therein become obedient with all diligence, and thereby shalt thou know the power thereof against all the contrary motions in thy flesh, so shalt thou learn the salvation of grace unto life eternal, which thou canst never attain by talking or any other way but in the obedience thereof, so shalt thou not receive the grace of God in vain, nor words without the working power of life, whereby the living knowledge of the mystery of godliness will daily increase.
For by obedience of the Spirit is the soul purified from its darkness and pollution, and made fit for the further manifestation of the hidden mystery, and the receiving the fullness thereof, and walking therein; and so by the Holy Ghost thou shalt be able to confess Jesus Lord over all powers in heaven and in earth, the opener of all secrets, and only revealer of the Father who <96> begetteth, by whom thou becomes wise in thy knowledge unto salvation, not unto vain babbling, whose words shall rise and condemn them who glory therein.
But thou, if in Spirit thou hearken diligently and obey, shalt know that he who sometimes spoke by the prophets doth now speak by his Son, the everlasting power of godliness, only begotten of the Father, and in all things like unto him, in whom he is made manifest. And the prophets have prophesied of glory to come, but the Son declares the Father in the present life, according to the measure of him formed; and as he arises in fullness he opens the heavens and gives the inheritance thereinto.
Do you say you seek God, you rulers and people? will you seek his face upon earth? or would you see his appearance to reign in righteousness? or can you rejoice to see him manifest in flesh? or do you love his image who is the Father of lights from whom you look for the Son from heaven? Then be not carnally minded in your expectation, lest you know him not in his appearance who is a Spirit, and so oppose him as your fathers in the flesh ever did: except you be born of the Spirit you cannot see the kingdom of God.
The Father dwells in the light and changes not, and the Son is the light of the world in his own image, by whom he changes all things that are out of him, and overturns shadows and customs, and makes the world new; and in Spirit and power is his kingdom upon earth, and the flesh is the veil with which he was ever hid33 from flesh and blood, but revealed in Spirit to such as desired to know no man after the flesh to set up or to worship.34 And no man could ever say that this Jesus was Lord but by the Holy Ghost.
So with the light of the Spirit alone which sees through the veil is Jesus known to be Lord and king forever, with which you <97> may all see what you set up to be lord and ruler in yourselves or over others. You that choose rulers, judges and justices, mayors and constables, &c.: do you see through the veil to choose Jesus in Spirit to rule over you or over others? Is that eye open which knows the Holy Ghost, and what vessel is35 filled therewith, that you may choose him to rule in his kingdom? Do you seek for that Spirit to choose withal by which alone Jesus is known to be Lord? Then it is plain you seek God's kingdom in the face of Jesus Christ who is that Spirit, which turning to causes the veil to be taken away from all hearts, and will change you also into his image by that Spirit as saith the Scriptures. So there was none to be chosen for judges, kings or rulers in Israel's commonwealth but who had of this Spirit and unction put upon them, and then the Lord reigned over them in his anointed, whether king, priest or prophet, man or woman; but when they chose rulers like other nations, then they rejected (not Samuel but) the Lord, that he should not reign over them. Now you that say you seek the Lord to rule over you, and say "thy kingdom come," mind what you choose to rule in you or over you, & with what spirit, lest your practice oppose your prayers and make void your daily expectation; do you choose after the flesh, as other nations do, or do you choose after the Holy Ghost? If you choose after the flesh, then you set the veil betwixt you and the Lord, and God's kingdom and his image you cannot see, and so you reject the Lord as other nations do; but if you look through the veil unto that which is within the veil, then shall the veil be taken away from all your hearts, and you shall see him amongst you whom you wait for, and him alone set up and worship, and choose him alone to reign over you who is near you, at hand to all that put not his day afar off.
So if you make rulers like all the nations, then after the flesh, they that are rich, they that are proud, they that are full of earthly glory, &c. Here is the earth set above, then the veil is before your eye and you see not the Lord, that Spirit,36 nor do you set up Jesus to be Lord by the Holy Ghost. But if that eye be open in you that can see through the veil of earth, and all this deal of flesh and darkness to that which is within the veil, even <98> the Holy One in his temple, him to choose and set above in your minds; then your eye shall see the Lord's anointed and the king in his glory, and he shall rule whose right it is in every heart, and your governors shall be of yourselves, and all violence shall cease, and shakings of governments, the government being upon his shoulders who is the prince of all your peace, in the great & in the small, who shall reign in righteousness, and judge the people with equity for God and not for rewards, to whose authority every knee shall bow and every tongue confess for conscience sake, his name being written in every heart will then be read, whose kingdom is everlasting, and in Spirit and power he reigns, and in Spirit is worshiped in heaven and in earth, who fills all things with the presence of his glory, and his kingdom is near to all that can believe, it's "within you" saith Christ, and he rules where he is not known (though not to salvation) who is made of the seed of David after the flesh by the word of God to all generations, a king forever according to promise, whose kingdom the eye which the god of this world hath blinded is putting afar off, who sees not the light of his glorious gospel though he be not afar off, but him in whom all things have life and being, either to salvation or condemnation, and this is the condemnation: that light is come already into the world, which men who loves their evil deeds say is to come, and so looks for that without who is a Spirit within, and therein hath ever reigned more or less, but now is arising to his day37 over all the world, whose sound is gone out to the ends of the earth, and his light ariseth in every heart to life or condemnation, and some it leads into rest, and others it pricks to the heart, and they kick against it and will not have it to rule therein, and to this day he is rejected of the builders, who is the first born unto God in Spirit blessed over all.
And now all sorts of people who in truth wait for the kingdom of God upon earth, with that which in you is of him, you may all see (if you keep that eye single) when he draws near who is born of the Spirit,38 and when he is put afar off in his government here below, when you behold in any manner of authority such a Spirit as is for God alone, looking to that of <99> God in every man without respect of person or riches, and with a single eye seeks to find out where that measure of God is transgressed in any, or where it is oppressed by any, and with that measure of God in himself seeks to set judgment upon the head of the transgressor and to set free the innocent principle of God in all, which will not lead any to evil; then is the judgment of God and for God, and that of God is set above in all, that's he that's born of God; here the kingdom of God is near, and as this increases so God draws near and his kingdom increases, and that of God in you all will answer thereto, and rejoice thereat which waits for him, and that which is upright in every heart shall say that is the judgment of God, and in that vessel is God on his throne; according to the measure of that Spirit set up in judgment, so is Jesus Lord by the Holy Ghost, known and bowed to.
But on the contrary, in what place of authority soever it be, in which the innocent comes for judgment against the oppressor who is too strong for him, and so seeks to justice to plead his cause and to deliver the seed of God that is burdened; and when he comes his cause is not heard but is thrust away (if not further ensnared) because he cannot oppress that of God in him more, either by bowing to something of vain customs or worships never set up by God, nor owned by his witness for conscience sake; or else because he cannot hire his judgment by feeding a covetous spirit which is for rewards and not for God that he judges, and so the innocent soul is not relieved at this throne, but sent away as an offender, from that place where he should be eased and justified with the judgment of a free spirit, for justice sake, doth not that of God in you all testify against this, that judgment is here turned backward in that vessel, and that Jesus is not Lord therein? So the innocent heart is saddened but not saved, and the kingdom of God put afar off, and the scepter of righteousness not seen.
Wherefore rulers and people, who set up flesh instead of the holy Spirit to rule over you, the wills of men, the pride and glory of this world, or any visible thing here below born after the flesh; see what you choose and what you put afar off, and with that spirit you now choose you will never see the kingdom of God, nor be able to say in truth that Jesus is Lord. It's by the Spirit of holiness, meekness and true judgment and works of <100> righteousness that Jesus is known to reign, and therein stands the sight of his kingdom and lordship, in every heart, in every court, and in every place of judgment to all generations, which you deny in choosing the man of this world after the flesh to rule in you or over you therein. And yet you say you look for him, and "thy kingdom come" daily, but deny him in the simplicity of his lowly Spirit to rule for his own in all, as all your rulers ever did, as you have read in words and now may read in deeds, the world by wisdom knows not God, so that spirit chooses its own to rule, but cannot receive him whom you say you look for.
And how should anyone who sees the kingdom of God, and where the simplicity of Christ is above, own that kingdom or worship that spirit and not betray the simplicity of Christ and give his honor to another? And if in the meekness of mind you did but weigh this, you could not think it so strange why so many at this day (who have received the kingdom of God in his lowly, just and righteous Spirit) choose rather to suffer death under that spirit of this world than to bow to worship it, or confess that due thereto which belongs only to Jesus the Lord, neither would you say it was obstinacy or contempt of authority rather to suffer by the will of man than to rob the Lord of his glory & deny Christ in his kingly office, and set up another in his place. And herein true wisdom may see that in so doing we resist not that power which is ordained of God, nor the person, but that spirit we testify against by sufferings under, which God never anointed for a savior,39 holding forth the anointing as we have received for a witness against him, in the spirit of meekness, confessing our king in whom we receive power to suffer; so to us he is come and by the gift of the Holy Ghost we can say he is Lord, therefore to us there is but one Lord, though there be many so-called whether in heaven or in earth, yet have we but one in all, both in heaven and earth, and him we know wherever he is by the gift of the Holy Ghost, and to him in Spirit we confess and bow, and the fruits of his Spirit are manifest with the light of the world, testifying against all the works of darkness in all the children of his kingdom. And to us he is born who is from above the holy child, <101> wonderful in counsel and strength, whose heavenly power and virtue takes our affections from all earthly objects and worship, whose name is Immanuel, and it is written in our hearts and shed abroad into the world in our lives, and Christ Jesus is the end of our conversation, him alone to put on, above all to preach by walking in him as we have received of that lively image of holiness and truth, the anointed of God, and so we confess him before men, who is the right heir, in what vessel soever he appears, and the prayers40 we give to God where this treasure is found in the earthen vessel, and the hope of all our glory is Christ within, and the increase of his government is Christ within, of which there is no end, and with that Spirit is all righteousness established, the kingdom of God upon earth, and eternal life.
And where this is not seen, chosen and followed, there men rule in their own wills, and where men's persons and riches is respected in choosing such, there the same is respected in judgment by such, and the law of God is perverted, and the sword of justice which should defend the cause of the innocent is laid by, and the fist of wickedness lift up against that which is tender of God in every conscience, and when this rules the righteous seed mourns in secret, but wickedness reigns openly. And this is and ever was the state of the kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the Gentiles, the one rules in the Spirit of holiness, and the other exercise Lordship in their own wills, chosen and set up not by the Holy Ghost, as you may read in the Scriptures concerning Israel's commonwealth, who when they wanted the ruling of this Spirit they sold themselves under their enemies, but when this was their judge they had a savior chosen after the Spirit, not after the flesh, whatever was the vessel,41 the Spirit was their savior.
Moses was a poor wandering shepherd, yet in this Spirit a God to Pharaoh, and savior of Israel; Samuel a poor man who received no reward for judgment, and when they went about to choose another after the manner of other nations they rejected God, who then gave them a king in his wrath; David a poor man not chosen by the outward appearance as man looks, but by the heart, by the direction of the Spirit, he was the shepherd of <102> Israel, and his seed of the same election hath the everlasting kingdom of promise to all generations. Elisha a plowman, yet by that Spirit was he42 the chariots of Israel and horsemen thereof. Deborah a woman, yet a judge & deliverer to Israel. And too long would it be to instance in all ages how he hath set up his throne and saved his people in this election, not of wisdom, riches or worldly glory, but the poor of this world, rich in faith, heirs of the kingdom of promise, which you say you look for, but cannot see nor receive while you choose after the flesh as the world hath ever done, who still have bent all their wisdom and religion to keep the heir out of his kingdom, whom they have been looking for after the flesh, but not believing in the light to give them a sight through the veil to him that is born of the Spirit have resisted the Holy One, and chosen the murderer, as did your fathers so do you always resist the Holy Ghost, and as it was, so it is: that which is born of the flesh is flesh, and chooses after the flesh and worships after the flesh, for it can see no further; it cannot see the kingdom of God. And that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit and chooses after the Spirit, and worships in Spirit, and these are contrary kingdoms; and he that's born after the flesh persecutes him that's born after the Spirit, ever did and ever will do, for the Scripture cannot be broken, which hath so said and is now fulfilled.
And now you that are called Christians, you read and preach of this king Christ Jesus and his kingdom, what a one he ever hath been in his appearance upon earth, by whom he hath been received and by whom rejected and after what manner he hath ever suffered, and by what power he hath reigned in all ages, and this you will confess in words, but will you now receive him to reign in you? Or can you own his appearance where it is set up in others and not be offended therewith? is that eye open that knows him, or can you delight in him who was never like the world in his walkings? Was not he ever poor as to this world, and therefore rejected of the rich and learned? lowly, and rejected of princes and them that was high? Was not his work ever to change shadows and forms and religious traditions set up in men's minds above the life of truth and leadings of the Spirit, <103> and to set up spiritual worship and obedience in its place? And therefore by the builders ever rejected and condemned, and his new work was ever foolishness to the wise, wherefore he bare the reproach thereof with patience; was he not ever meek and innocent and harmless in his conversation towards all men as a Lamb indeed, separate from sinners in life, yet seeking them to save out of sin with the daily giving up his life, &c.? So he was and so he hath ever appeared on earth; now can you receive your king as he was, you that wait for him? Or do you think he is changed? Is he now become proud and lofty in flesh after the world, cruel and covetous and hardhearted, subtle and crafty to deceive the simple, strong and violent to trample on the helpless? doth the glory of his scepter now stand in meats and drinks and fine apparel or great earthly possessions? Doth he now come to take up his abode and delight in these things, who ever hath come to take the minds of his people out of these things up into the heavenly treasure? Doth he now delight in earthly glory, strife and exaltation? Is the weapons of his warfare now become carnal wherewith he overcomes his enemies? Doth he now come with haling and beating, whips and prisons and cruel tortures to take the kingdom of peace, who hath suffered such things formerly from the world himself, & will he now turn oppressor of that which is tender in conscience, and grind the face of the poor, or pervert the judgment of the needy? Should he now be seen in works of this nature, were this to appear the second time without sin unto salvation as he is promised? Sure the veil is thick over that heart who sees not that this is not his kingdom, power nor glory, nor his image who is the same yesterday, today and forever. Yet is this nature above in many, and chosen to rule over many who say they wait for his kingdom, that eye being darkened with the love of the world which should give the true sight of his coming, the carnal mind thinks God to be like himself. But did you but honestly look into your own hearts, with that eye which puts a difference between things that differ in yourselves, to know each motion of each spirit and each power, and the end and nature of its working, the earthly and the heavenly, you would soon be able to judge of these two which so far differ in their fruits, and are so contrary in all things, and to <104> own the right heir in his kingdom. But while you suffer the god of this world to keep his throne in your hearts, by letting him captivate your minds and affections into earthly delights, it is not like he will suffer you to choose aright, nor receive another to reign in you or over you; the eye of the mind being blinded therewith, the light of the gospel cannot shine into the heart by which you should choose, and which gives the knowledge of God in the face of Jesus,43 nor that treasure be seen or received in the earthen vessel, as king either in yourselves or others; but the wise in heart knows what they wait for, and when they see him they rejoice with the joy of his kingdom which consists not in carnal things, nor comes with outward observations, but whose coming is within, and whose kingdom consists in righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost, blessed be our king forever, and blessed are they who put not his kingdom afar off.
And therefore you rulers and people of all sorts high and low, this word is to you, and this day is to you the day of the Lord: arise and receive your king into his kingdom, that he may receive you and establish you therein; the Lord is at hand, he is near to all that call upon him in truth and righteousness.
To you princes, judges, justices, mayors and constables & all sorts of rulers who are in the place to govern, the Lord is at hand, he is near you all, the kingdom of God is within you, the principle of God is within you, with which (if you mind it) he will break the yoke of the oppressor within you and without you by the sword of justice; that's his kingdom upon earth; put it not afar off; let it arise in your hearts, set it up above the will of man, let it shine in your hearts, let it speak in your courts, that which is of God in you all, which judges justly and with equity; lay by your will, your pride, your covetousness, and all that's above that Spirit of meekness in your minds, and make room in your hearts for the Holy Ghost, that thereby Jesus may be Lord in you and over others, that you may know him to whom judgment belongs to be in you; you need not say who shall ascend into heaven to bring down Christ from above, or who shall descend into the deep to bring up Christ again from the dead, for he is nigh you, and you <105> may feel his witness in Spirit, and his word is in your hearts, the word of faith, the word of righteousness, that therewith you may all know him, who standeth in the congregation of the mighty, to judge among the gods, who judges not unjustly, nor accepteth the person of the wicked, but that with him you may deliver the poor and fatherless, and judge the cause of the stranger, wherein they are oppressed; that's his kingdom, and that's the word of faith and the word of righteousness that leads to it.
And if this be set up in your own hearts to love it more than gifts and rewards, persons or earthly glory, then is the Lord near you, and his kingdom is above the earth in you, and your work will be to set it above the earth in others; and so the kingdom of your Father who begets this in your hearts, his kingdom comes, as his will is done upon earth as it is in heaven, where all obey him; there is the kingdom his, the power is his by which you judge, and the glory is his of your righteous judgment, now and forever if you therein abide. And thus shall you be of the obedient children to that of your Father in you begotten, who say and do, who pray and practice, and not like the scribes and Pharisees and lawyers, who said and did not, who made long prayers but devoured the poor and needy, and judged not the cause of the stranger, but laid heavy burdens upon others, and bowed not thereto themselves, who could not believe in the light, nor receive Christ within them, though he told them the kingdom of God was within them, and his word had no place in them, who was filled with pride and willfulness; so they had lost the key of knowledge, the key of David, to open to them the way into the anointing, whereby to know David's Lord to reign in Spirit, which hath the promise of David's throne forever. So when they lost this the kingdom departed from Israel, and the priesthood also; and he set up his sign to the Gentiles, preaching the kingdom of God to them that were afar off, and they that were not a people came to the kingdom of his anointing; and that great mystery that had been hid from ages was opened thereby to the Gentiles, which was Christ in them the hope of glory and kingdom of the Father.
And now you that are called Christians and are making great declarations, what a glorious kingdom the kingdom of Christ will be at his coming, and what holiness and righteous government, and many high things and great glory you look for, &c. But <106> above all the rest how are you estranged, who are gone out again from the anointing to look for this without you, while you reject it within you? Was Christ within them that great mystery that had been hid from ages, which by the hearing of faith was opened to the Gentiles and was the hope of glory to them (even Christ within them, whom the apostles preached, warning every man and teaching every man that they might present every one perfect in Christ Jesus, the hope of glory within them, which faith the Jews not receiving lost their king and kingdom)? And is your hopes without you, as the Jews' was? Is that the hope the apostles preached to the Gentiles, or that which enters within the veil? Is there not a veil drawn over your hearts again whilst you read this in Scriptures? And have not you lost the key of knowledge, who are gone out from the anointing in your hopes? Have you not lost the key of David, which should let you see David's Lord, in which the kingdom of God is established forever? Did God swear this to David after the flesh, or to Abraham after the flesh, or to any after the flesh? Then how is his kingdom everlasting? Or why did he say the flesh profits nothing? And why did the apostle say, they desired henceforth to know no man after the flesh, no not Christ himself? Flesh and blood passeth away, but this kingdom is everlasting; so him whom the apostles preached in Spirit by the receiving of the Holy Ghost, wherein they were to grow up to his age and stature and appearance,44 him you reject in spirit to be the hope of your glory and kingdom, and wait for a government after the flesh, and so shut up the great mystery of godliness which was opened, and the kingdom against yourselves, which mystery is not after the flesh, but God manifest in flesh, Christ within the hope of glory, and this mystery was ever shut with carnal expectations, but opened in the Spirit, as it was, so it is: who denies the Spirit to be Lord shuts up the kingdom.
Wherefore arise out of the flesh you rulers and people and receive your king; long hath he been rejected and thrust out of the throne of judgment, for which you have no peace nor establishment. Why will you not turn to him who calls you in Spirit; what a shame is this that you are called Christians and know not <107> your anointing, Christ in you? What? Christians and without Christ? Christ not come? What do you rule withal, and discern with, and judge with? Is not all that reprobate who knows not Christ in you?45 But if you know a just, a holy, a righteous principle of Spirit in you that is of Christ, set it up and you set up Christ; bow to the Holy Ghost and you worship in Spirit, and thereby you shall say that Jesus is Lord; set up his light in your hearts and his day will arise to you all, for there must the day dawn and the day-star arise in your hearts, which will give the knowledge of God near you, and true judgment near you, and that which rules over spiritual wickedness near you, which all must bow to who receives the kingdom of God. Honor God in your hearts, set him up in your hearts, let him be judge in your hearts, and first receive his light and judgment there before you pass judgment upon others, lest you in judging others before men condemn yourselves before God. David had little thought he had done that, when he said, he that had taken his neighbor's lamb should surely die; and you may soon do the like if you go out from the Spirit and judge before you receive judgment in your own hearts, and see all be clean there first, then is your scepter established in righteousness and your judgment in truth, which is the scepter of the throne of David in Spirit, which condemned David in flesh and will condemn you in the flesh if you sin against it; and that is his kingdom, and he is king forever, who in Spirit condemns sin in the flesh, and for this end is he manifest, that the righteousness of the law may be fulfilled in all who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit, which comes in his name who went away after the flesh that the kingdom might come. And if you receive your authority and judgment in this right principle of God, it will judge for God in all, yourselves and others, and it will fit you to be mediators betwixt the offender and sufferer in all, and you will see what it is which transgresseth and what is transgressed, and the nature of every offence to pass an equal judgment accordingly, and this is of God and he loves it, and where that of God is pressed not to clear the oppressor, but <108> to judge the oppressor and set that of God which is innocent free; and here with that of God in yourselves you judge for that of God in all, and set that of God above the oppressor in all, which oppressor is not of God in you nor in others, but is to be judged, and for the law and for the sword, but against that of God the law is not. And here is God's kingdom already near and not afar off, where God is all in all, and the righteous reigns, and the power that is ordained of God the soul is subject to for conscience sake towards God in heaven and earth; and that of God in every conscience shall answer to your judgment and authority, and God shall set you up therewith as a terror in every heart above the evildoer, the murderer and traitor, and the arrows of the Almighty shall stick in the hearts of all that seek to undermine this government, for the kingdom of God it is, in which he rules, who cannot forget himself, nor hath this kingdom been taken from any who once46 received it thus, till they go out of it themselves, by suffering or setting up another to rule above that measure of this just and innocent principle of God.
And if you receive this kingdom from heaven in love of it, then shall you receive your judgment from heaven also, and your law to judge by, and God shall make you rich towards him in righteous judgment, and towards his people, and a discerning spirit will he give you in this anointing to know hard matters that are hid from flesh and blood, which you shall receive in secret and bring forth openly, and all shall hear and fear and praise the Lord for you; and you shall no more go to the heathen to learn judgment whom the Lord hath removed far from him, nor shall you uphold those laws by which the servants of God hath suffered formerly in the times of popery, nor shall the statutes of Omri be kept and observed, nor follow the ways of the house of Jeroboam, for you have seen what God hath done concerning them, that you may fear to follow them. But you shall have your laws from the lawgiver Christ Jesus, and your judgment from the Father of lights, whose ministers then you are, to whose sword that of God in every conscience shall answer, which is written in every heart, and which every heart shall fear to offend, when they hear that the Lord hath raised him up judges as at the first, and counselors as <109> at the beginning, and the heathen shall hear and fear, and come to you to learn judgment, and righteousness shall arise from amongst you to the ends of the earth, & the break of God's day shall be with you first, as to you it is first tendered if you be not found unworthy to receive him, and he shall make you as a head in counsel, and the firstborn of all nations unto God shall you be if you receive him, wherein the blessing of God is bound up by an oath, and his strength upon earth to all generations.
And this is the love of God to you all once more, the rulers of these nations, from the highest to the lowest, that love might open your hearts that the earth hath shut and sealed, that you might come to a feeling of your everlasting establishment, and that your fears may cease in an endless union betwixt Christ your king and your own souls, to the dread of all your enemies, and eternal praises lift up to him, indeed, who hath scattered your enemies many a time for you, and all their dark plots brought to light, that you may love the light wherein is your salvation, and not plot in darkness against his innocent ones, as your enemies do, but with hearts open and naked receive the truth, which condemns all the deeds of darkness in you and in them, lest he bring your plots and secret counsels against the innocent upon your heads, as he hath often done to your enemies, for he will avenge the poor, though long he suffer with them and in them; and this is now seen concerning you, as was formerly seen concerning them, of which they were warned in words, and witnessed against in sufferings long before it came, who are now broken as a potter's vessel, and cannot be made whole, but whatever they do breaks them more. And now are you warned and invited in love, who sees before you this day what God hath done concerning them, and suffered concerning you.
And I am bold in the love of God to send this to you all wherein there is a seed of God, and I know there is that of God in you which will answer to the truth of this; and the Scriptures witness with me also, so I am not alone, but by two infallible witnesses every word is established, either to life or condemnation; and my prayers to God is and shall be as long as this of God in me hath breathings, that you may receive the kingdom of God which is near you, through that spiritual light and key that opens the door of your entrance thereinto, that you may come to <110> be established in the covenant of God and not of man, and that you may not resist the Holy Ghost, as hitherto you have many of you done, nor kick against that which pricks you at your hearts when you are told hereof, lest you be broken in the end, so as you can never be healed, which is near at hand to be broken or established, as you receive God or refuse him, who hath long waited upon you that now are, and with much patience is he finishing as large a testimony of his suffering and forbearance among you, as ever was since the world began, though it be little seen where the light is rejected, which the longing of my soul is, may be for the leading to repentance, that you may be established after all this shakings in that which cannot be shaken, otherwise the most miserable woe that ever was will come upon you, your profession of Christ being the greatest that ever was since the beginning. And his oppression answerable, under which he suffers in all places of the nations for a testimony that the kingdom is near you, whether you will receive him or refuse him, whose life in measure is now manifest in mortal flesh, and the light thereof ariseth in every conscience to lead or condemn.
A voice in the wilderness cries aloud to all you who are talking of the Lord's coming: prepare his way, make his paths straight, make way for the just to come to judgment, make him way in your streets, he comes not in a corner, nor is he kept in the secret chambers, but openly in the streets of your great cities, where iniquity is committed openly, whose cry hath gone up before the Lord, and he comes to see whether it be so indeed as the cry hath been. And behold here is no room for the feet of his servants to pass, in whom he comes. The ancient paths of peace are broken up, the sea hath broken its banks, it rages and swells exceedingly, and the good old ways are grown like a wilderness, they are filled with heaps of rubbish, so that the stranger cannot pass who hath no habitation in the earth; our streets are become as Sodom which God overthrew, who can see and not lament? How are the paths of the just devoured? How is briars and thorns grown over the way of the righteous, which takes hold of the upright what way soever he turn, if he come against sin? So <111> the innocent cannot pass if he come in the name of the Lord. All hath freedom but the heir and such as he sends before his face to prepare his way: swearers, liars, drunkards, and all deceitful workers are become freemen, have free passage, and every one brings forth without fear; but he that departs from iniquity and testifies against it is beset about with them all, as a sheep in the briars, what way soever he turns his bonds are increased. How is true judgment driven into a corner, and wickedness come into the streets, which rises up without fear against him that reproves it, for violence hath got into the seat of equity, and hath framed mischief by a law, and hath turned judgment backwards.
Should not truth have its way amongst you professors, and righteous judgment pass upon its enemies where they are found, and plead its own cause against iniquity? But he that letteth stands in the way with his weapons to devour him that is more righteous than himself, and no man is able to restore to the upright his path. Or can he redeem his own way but through blood? Shall he condemn iniquity and not be a prey? Or shall he reprove sin in the gate and not be taken in their drag? And when the innocent is caught in this net, to whom shall he cry for relief and not increase his bonds? Or who will plead his innocent cause and not betray him? If he would appeal to justice, he cannot come at it, nor doth judgment sit in the gate. Is there help in the house of the king? or will the house of the priest plead his right? Or to whom may he commit himself with safety whose life and faith is held in a pure conscience? Or in what court can he appear without offense? Are not snares laid in lower places and on the mountains a net spread? And do not these daily catch men? Search if there be a man left that is valiant for truth upon earth, who for fear or favor will not wink at oppression, or that dare faithfully stand by him that comes in the name of the Lord to reprove sin openly, who is he that hath not laid riches, or honor, or some piece of earth in his own way to stop his feet from the path of uprightness, and so is every man's arm become too short to relieve the oppressed, or to open the way wherein the innocent may serve his Maker without fear? Or the just to proclaim the holiness of God without danger, in the way that God shall choose, and not man? or for judgment to come forth into the open places where wickedness is most acted? or for <112> the lively witness of the Lamb to arise against his enemy in the good old way that he hath chosen to all generations?
Ah! how is the ancient paths forsaken of men? How have you left the good old way of God, and chosen ways of your own against your own souls? How long will it be ere you try your ways with the truth that you may return to him who is come to require the paths of judgment and righteousness and truth, that the meek may possess his inheritance of old, and that God may walk in his own seed as he hath said, "I will dwell in them and walk in them," who comes as the lightning.
Behold you who are crying against new ways, you say it was never well since there is so many new ways, you are the men and your ways are the thing you complain of, and why there is so many of your ways is because Babel is confounded, and many heads and horns are lifted up to fulfill that number as is written of them to withstand the way of the Lamb, and to fight against God's appearance in his heritage; who all are set against the way of God as at this day, which is but one to all generations. Was not this his way of old which is now rejected, and which is become so odious in your eyes? Was not this of old the pure path which you now say breaks your peace? Search the Scriptures which testify of God and his way in his servants of old, and how he then passed in his redeemed ones, chosen vessels for himself, to make his power known against opposers, as you may read in Scriptures, trace the steps of his servants in whom he walked, and see how far you have erred at this day.
Was not this his way in Jeremiah, who led him into the gates of Jerusalem, and through the streets thereof, through him declaring against sin there abounding, and to pronounce judgment to follow? did not he lead him into their temple, and therein told them who went thither to worship that they trusted in a lie, who cried the temple of the Lord, but had made it a den of thieves by their wicked ways? Did not he lead him down to the house of the king, and there told him that if he would not amend his ways his house should become a desolation? And which of the false prophets did he not reprove openly by him? Was not this his way then? And what became of them that would have stopped him? Did not he speak words in Amos against the wickedness of their king, priests and worships, that the land was not able to <113> bear? Did not he lead Jonah through the streets of Nineveh? And in which of the prophets did not he thus walk in, and some received him in his way, and turned from their own ways and found mercy, and the rest that rejected him was destroyed in their own ways in which they blessed themselves as at this day? Now read these, and read what you now oppose in your streets and steeplehouses and markets, and let that of God in you be judge if you be not of such as now say, Depart from us, we will have none of thy ways? Also search your gospel if you can receive his way therein which changes not: Did not he come in Christ and in his apostles as a wanderer to and fro, without a certain dwelling place, to preach repentance and amendment of life, and the light of the world, from city to village, from place to place, which way you now call vagabonds? And did not he enter their temples and synagogues, schools and markets, and all their places of worship and concourse where sin or false worship was acted, and there disputed and testified against their whole way, and called them to the way of God? and this was his manner of walking in them, even in times of their worships, and in the greatest assembly of meetings & markets, which to you is become as gall and wormwood, and you call it disturbance and peace-breaking.
Was not this his way in such as knew their bodies to be his temples, and in whom he walked and spoke the words of life and judgment and truth; his way by which he overturned the world, leaving all without excuse against the day of wrath which was to follow where he was rejected, his way by which he called many thousands out of false worships in which they were settled (as you are) and their souls deceived, but this was his way to salvation, which was not their way (as he hath said, my ways are not your ways), yet was there no other way for them to be saved, which is the same at this day to all that receive his coming, and to all that resist the holy Spirit in his temples: as did your fathers so do you, saith Stephen to such as worshiped God in outward observations but denied his way and worship in temples made without hands; these resisted the Spirit that spoke in his saints, these resisted the Holy Ghost, resisted the way of God, as do you, read and consider; Stephen was full of God, the Spirit spoke in him, they resisted him, they called him a blasphemer, they stoned him by a law; here was God's way and their way, <114> now try your ways whose work is to resist the Spirit and light within, which hath filled the hearts and mouths of his servants to cry against sin; mind what you resist.
Had not God come in this his own way to seek and to save by his appearance in such vessels as he had prepared of old for that end (whom in time he filled with himself, as they stood in need in all conditions to pass with him through all hardships and crooked ways of the wicked world, from place to place seeking a seed to himself), what had become of the saints of old, which was covered with darkness till he came thus to appear to them holding forth his light and his life and glory in vessels prepared, to show forth his virtues and the riches of his grace, not only in declaring in words, but also in power to suffer for his name long and hard trials, with much patience and meekness, in all which they became signs to the world, and lively witnesses of God to his own in every conscience, whereby the seed of God in many gathered strength to arise out of darkness and come to judgment, and by their sufferings waxed confident in the faith, that it was the eternal God that they had seen preached, and that was in them who thus suffered, and did not receive their words as the words of men, but of God who was with them and in them in all. And this his way was not only to receive such as came to him, but with danger of life went into their assemblies and public places to bring them out of the claws of the devil, who beat some in their synagogues, haled some before rulers, cast some into prison, who suffered great afflictions to bring souls from under this dark power, and in all this God was afflicted with them, and by his own Spirit brought them out, and this was his way of ransoming and redeeming, and of bringing to Zion as you may read of old; and thus by his Spirit and by his working in them did he work wonders and signs, and was a witness against the whole body of sin, overturning false ways and worships by a way they knew not, nor did the world know it was he until he had brought to pass his work upon them, having thus gathered out his seed from amongst them, who then sought to stop his way as you do at this day; and what was their end?
And in this way was the churches of Christ gathered even by blood and sufferings, and tumults and beatings, and mockings and whippings, and all manner of cruel usage, fighting with beasts <115> after the manner of men; and by the patient sufferings of Christ in them were many recovered out of the snares of the devil, which had he not sought them in this way they had lived and died in blindness; and this was the way in which God gathered the churches (which you who oppose this way would imitate), and in this way was the mystery of godliness and the mystery of iniquity revealed, and the kingdom of Christ known upon earth; and in this way came the Scriptures of the apostles and prophets of which you talk and would turn to oppose this way, like them who read his coming in the prophets and would have stopped his coming in Christ and the apostles, so do you ever resist the way of the Holy One, and yet in words you pray for his coming; but having erred in your hearts from that light which should give the knowledge of him, you know not his ways but have in your imaginations set a new way for his appearance, everyone in his own form, but all think you are doing him service to stop his old way by force.
Ah foolish people (and full of wit), will you call on him to come to judgment and stop his way with cruelty? Is not the day of the Lord darkness to you who deny the light? God's ways are not yours, nor his thoughts yours who are vain therein; will you hedge up his way against him? Will you set briars and thorns before him? and shall not the light of Israel kindle a fire amongst you? Shall not he go through and tread you down, and with your own tear you as a lion from whom none shall deliver?
Was it not thus with Israel when they builded temples and increased their altars, and multiplied their sacrifices? and what was the end, was it not all to sin? for thereby they strengthened themselves against the way of the Lord in his prophets, and blessed themselves in their worships, & said no evil should come upon them, for they made many prayers, but their hands were full of blood, for the best of them were become as a briar in the way of the innocent, and the most upright as a thorn-hedge in the way of his servants, in whom he appeared against their backsliding evils and false worships; but they were not so to their own teachers, for them they fed fat, and gave gifts, rewards and hire to them. So having got prophets of their own in their way, then they joined together, and one cried peace to another, and when God came to break that peace in his way and to tell them it was not his peace, then they all joined to hedge him out and made a wall <116> against him of their own righteousness which they daubed up with their increase of sacrifices and false worships, so they said they were innocent people, said so, and priest and prophets and rulers said so, for they had trimmed their own ways, so they said they should have peace, and he that told them truth then became their troubler. So having covered themselves with this garment, they could shed innocent blood boldly, which was found in the skirts thereof not by secret search; and what became of all this? Did their own ways save them in the end? Did not innocent blood outcry the multitude of their altars, till there was no remedy? So he became their enemy whom they called their redeemer.
So now read your ways at this day and measure them in truth, and see what it is you are hedging out, who it is, and what is his message against, and what is his manner of coming, and your manner of opposing, that so if it were possible you might come to see a glimpse of the old way and of your own work; is it not he that comes to cry out against that which is wicked in your streets, and false in your worships, that's become your enemy and breaks your peace, whom your hedge cannot stop nor your wall keep out? How many briars and thorns are set against him at this day to take hold of him if he do but open his mouth in your streets, what laws new and old there is to make him an offender for a word in your temples; how is he beat in your synagogues, haled before rulers and cast into prisons? How is the Scriptures fulfilled upon you, and his witness doubled against you manifold over, above all your forefathers of whom you read? and yet you say you are innocent, you are no persecutors but for liberty of conscience; they were persecutors that so used him in the prophets and in the apostles, and in Queen Mary's days that so used martyrs, &c., but cannot see your work of the same nature, which47 Queen Mary's laws are far too short for you to accomplish, but48 with many additions thereto are you in much fury driving on to destruction; yet having trimmed your own way, say you, we are Christians and have a gospel ministry of godly men, &c. But what Christians? Did ever Christians count it a breach of their peace to reprove sin in the gate or wherever it is committed? Did Christians ever cast into <117> prison, or count it disorder to dispute in their synagogues in the time of their worship? did they ever make a law to whip strangers who asks them naught, or to force people to swear against the49 conscience? and many such things are now done which in the time of the apostles the heathen came far short of, which now is filling up all50 against him whose coming is ever as a stranger in the earth, and what hedgings here is at this day to keep him out from his own is plainly to be seen, and that he should not have liberty to seek up his lost ones in highways and hedges, markets and steeplehouses. How have you heightened your walls higher than your forefathers? and what daubing is at this day against the way of God from which your own ways cannot save you? for the way of God is perfect and will endure to all generations, wherein the upright walks and sinners falls in opposition thereto.
But how should you know his way who denies his light within? seeing they that rebel against the light never knew the paths thereof. You are they who have erred in your hearts and therefore have not known his ways, and how should you have peace or enter into his rest? for you that denies his light and resists his Spirit in your hearts must needs be offended at his coming in your streets, so you have set yourselves against him and he hath set himself against you as at this day; and therefore it is not with you now as it was when you were in the work of making him way to walk in tender consciences, and you will find him arise more to cross your ways as you seek to stop his way; you have begun to walk contrary to him, and he is beginning to walk contrary to you, and unto you is he become an enemy; so take heed what you do, for till you return will he watch over you for evil and not for good, and the more you trim your own ways to withstand his way, the more will he discover the blood of the innocent in your skirts before the Son,51 till all may see you are no Christians nor what you profess, but open enemies to God and his people, & your hands full of blood. Wherefore be not rash, you heady people, you that are but looking for his coming in outward observations are witnesses against yourselves that his way you have not yet learned, though you have read of it yet you know it not, and will you appoint him <118> a way, and call it his way, and will he own it, who comes a way you have not known nor can believe if you be told it? It would be your wisdom to stand still every one and cease from your own ways, and wait in the light, which only gives the knowledge of him and his way, which light shines in the heart as saith the Scriptures; and the kingdom of God is within you, and he whom you oppose is a Spirit and comes a spiritual way to cut down spiritual wickedness. So to the Spirit of light turn that you may see to prepare to meet him in his own way, and not to set your way to oppose him, that he should break you to pieces.
Now glory to God in heaven, and the thousands of his saints doth confess him upon earth, who bear his name and testimony against the world, who have still put his coming afar off, who have not that which they profess in them, but tell of great things which they have not, who are without God in Spirit and his worship in Spirit, such as Christ said worshiped they knew not what, and such now worship they know not what, who worship that they have not, and profess him they possess not, without God in the world, in whose heart there is not God, who are not the temples of the living God, but to this day worship in temples made with hands, as those who resisted the Holy Ghost ever did, and how should such be holy vessels, holy men and women? What should sanctify where God is not, and what should lead where the Spirit is not, but the blind eye52 that leads into the ditch? And what is like to govern where God is not in his throne in the heart, how can such but be filled with unrighteousness who retain not God in their knowledge? So it is not strange to the children of light who with the eye53 of God are guided to see the whole world lie in wickedness, and to see such things acted against God in his temples now, by such as are without God as ever was, so the Scriptures are fulfilled as you may read. And ye holy in heart, rejoice, and lift up your heads towards the day of redemption, and own your generation here on earth that you may be gathered to the fathers with that which comes from above, and that Spirit <119> which perfects the just, and casts out the unjust, where are the dogs and adulterers and such as know not God, and where the hearts are gathered to the fathers in God there the earth is blessed, whose God is the Lord, who have received the Spirit from on high, and are filled with the Holy Ghost as Stephen was who saw heaven open, who was full of God,54 whom the great professors stoned, who was full of wrath, and yet said they looked for his55 coming from Scriptures, yet like madmen run upon him and destroyed his temple,56 so he destroyed their temple which they thought to uphold, who resisted God57 the Holy Ghost, because he had no place in them, who could not receive the light of the world, nor his word could find place in them, but in such as they cast out it found place, whose bodies were the temple of the living God, as he hath said, "I will dwell in them and walk in them," and Enoch walked within, with God in Spirit, and was not. And Isaiah God had wrought all his works in him. And Jeremiah was full of the fury of the Lord; and Ezekiel was the son of man; and Daniel had the Spirit of the most high God, the Spirit of light and understanding. And Paul had the Son of God revealed in him, the same that he preached, and said they that knew not Christ in them were reprobates, & he that is joined to the Lord is one Spirit. And to David the Lord said, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee," and David declared it, and the saints were begotten of God and58 partakers of the divine nature and confessed the Father and the Son in them, and that the Son of God was come and had given them an understanding, which they that looked for him to come without understood not, who beat him in their synagogues and shamefully entreated him because they knew not the Father nor the Son, but said he was to come. And they that had the Son had life, and the rest was children of wrath, filled with wrath, and so the Father and the Son supped with such as had them, and the Lord was at their table, and they fed with him in his sufferings and blood,59 and the rest made a large profession of him but fed at the table of devils, and these grew great in violence and strong to devour and shed blood, and the other excelled in <120> meekness and patient in suffering, and here were they separated into life and death never like to meet more.
And here now may all read the worship in Spirit in such as know God in Spirit, and the worship in letter in them that have not God & know not what they worship, and these know not what they do who know not what they worship; and the Son of God saith, "Father forgive them, they know not what they do," who saith they worship they know not what, who worship not in Spirit, who worship in their thoughts of God, but not the Spirit of God in possession and knowledge, who think they do God service to kill and destroy the temple of God because they know not him in themselves that is worshiped therein, as Christ hath foretold, and must be fulfilled at the coming of the Holy Ghost. And when God descends from heaven to walk on earth in his temples, and to require his worship to himself out of all sects and traditions, this is his entertainment from all that look for him in observations, whose coming is within, and his kingdom is within you.
And now to you he is come of whom you have been long talking, and in that way he appears among you of which you are preaching. The Jews had but the prophecies and shadows to know him by reading without them, but you read and preach in words of the lively pattern in Spirit, and have heard of the same life and testimony which now he bears against you in his temples,60 and when he comes you cannot receive him who suffers the same things among you. O England, how wilt thou stand in judgment? what wilt thou plead for thyself, when he arises to judgment, whose testimony against thee is drawing to an end? What will be thy excuse, and who wilt thou say thou took him to be, who now endures such contradiction against himself, such haling, beatings, scourgings and mockings and banishings, imprisonings and death, without resistings? Hast not thou heard of him before he came, that thou might have known in this thy day the things of thy peace? Hast thou not read of him that is sent to seek his lost, in temples & synagogues, in markets, and where the greatest of the people be, in which manner he now appears, & being refused of the rich gathers the poor in the highways and hedges, & yet hath nowhere to lay his own head; hast thou not heard of the everlasting way <121> of his walkings in prophets and apostles, & his pilgrimage in their bodies upon earth, who was ever a stranger in the world at his coming from heaven? What spirit wilt thou say this is which hath conformed so many at this day, who was amongst you like wolves to devour others, now to suffer the spoiling of their goods, and torturings of their bodies, and taking away their lives without seeking the least revenge? Wilt thou at that day say thou had thought it had been the spirit of the devil? as many of you now doth, though in your consciences otherwise convinced?
Alas for thee, how art thou wept over at this day? And what a lamentable sorrow hath many of the Lord's servants for thee, whom thou hast cast in holes and prisons for their obedience to God and testimony of their conscience towards God in them, whose patient sufferings and61 unparalleled cruelties are no more valued with thee than if they were dogs? and this hath gone throughout thee from the least to the greatest till there be very few left which are not wholly hardened, so that to hear of these evil dealings exercised upon the innocent doth no more enter your hearts than the rain enters a rock. Wherefore our souls are troubled for you, and our hopes concerning your healing grows daily less, and our sufferings in the Lord Jesus daily greater, hasting to the full, and what will you do in the end thereof? Or whom shall we take to witness for you? or may you be compared with any that ever hardened themselves in these ways and escaped destruction, that our hopes might revive and our prayers not cease; did ever any thus deny the life of what you preach in words yourselves, and which some of you have in measure felt and suffered for, and have been answered in by the Lord, and your eyes have seen the vengeance of the Almighty, and how dreadful it hath been both upon kings, priests and rulers for resisting? Ah, how much better had it been for you never to have known these things which you have seen, read and preached, than now that they should be fulfilled upon you to the uttermost? How well had it been for you had you been as those you call heathen, rather than to profess Christ and thus act against him at his coming, even in the same way yourselves preach him?
Alas, alas, what hath the innocent done, why he thus is used among you? Doth he cry against sin, against pride, against false <122> worships, against corrupt rulers, corrupt teachers, corrupt lawyers, &c.? And with much meekness bears his witness against these evils in you for a testimony of light to your words, whom he hath lifted up in wrath and zeal and judgment against the same things in the persons of others? and will not this arise against you of which you are witnesses all in one generation? But say thou he breaks the peace, and breaks our law, and is unmannerly, &c. But was he not ever so accounted, and is he not now in the same way he ever walked? What would that peace do for you (could you keep it whole) which is broken by reproving sin and deceit? Is there any peace to the wicked from God? & will he keep that law which will not give him liberty to reign in his temples and to lead his people by his Spirit? or will you plead that law against him in judgment when he comes to deal with you, who should know his law written in your hearts to limit you, and not your laws to limit him, nor your manners must not bind the conscience where he is known to be king? And this you know is truth and have pleaded it against others, and now cannot own it; will not62 the laws of Christ and the manners of Christ of which you read in Scripture agree with your government and peace, who calls for his kingdom to come amongst you, and profess to rule according to Scriptures? How will this stand at that day when you must not be your own judges, nor by your own laws? And why is he counted your enemy seeing his appearance now is in love to give you light out of this (for your eternal salvation) against which he will certainly come in judgment to condemnation? Have you not heard of the love of the Father to the world, who sends63 his Son to lay down his life therein for a light to the world, that whosoever believeth therein might not be condemned? Can you read and confess this life laid down in the prophets, in Christ, in the apostles, in the martyrs, and in all in whom this righteous blood hath been shed from Abel to your time, and can you not say they were blind priest and people who could not see this innocent sufferer in his several appearances? And what will you say of yourselves, seeing the same testimony is before your eyes, but not received? Was ever his sufferings so increased in so little a time, and for such little foolish things (as yourselves calls them) which though they seem little yet much <123> innocent blood hath been shed, and this life is laid down daily in many? And why should you count that so little, which your brethren count dearer than their precious life? Is there anything makes it so but the tenderness of the one, and hardness of the other? But say you, they are guilty of their own blood to suffer for such foolish things - but who is their executioners? Do not you suffer fools daily, they shall witness against you, that there is something in it more than folly? Have you not read that God chooseth the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and base despised things to bring to naught things that are, and weak things to confound the mighty? and can you read and preach this and not see it fulfilled nor understand without a meaning? Then take heed how you call that foolish which God hath chosen to lay down his life in64 for a witness against the murderer in the wise men of the world: will you call that foolishness whereby the mysteries of God comes to be manifest, and that which he hath chosen to declare himself in openly in his temples and his worship, his service, and his suffering long in meekness, and the devil in his temples, with his servants, his pride, his rashness and cruelty, and to lay each open to the simplest heart by their fruits, which have been long covered with words, but now everyone that knows a wolf from a lamb may see and cannot be deceived? Will you call this little which discovers so great a depth of deceit so closely hid, and opens the painted sepulchers, and searches the heart of the deceitful, laying it open to yourselves and others, which else you could not have known nor believed if you were told it? Could many of you have believed the prince of pride had ruled in you till you see him act you in cruelty on your brethren because they cannot worship you? or could you have believed that the murderer had been there till you proceed to cast into prisons your brethren & keep them there till death for these little things? And these things some suffer under you for a witness, and the rest are spared (though that spirit would have none to live) that the Scriptures may be fulfilled: Satan shall cast some of you into prison, &c. And are not these things manifestly laid open to yourselves and all that are not willingly blind, and also the contrary Spirit of Christ Jesus where these things are patiently endured? And will you call this <124> foolishness, which thus leaves all the world without excuse, and prepares all for righteous judgment? Many had little thought these little things should have opened such great secrets, or this folly have confounded such wisdom, when a subtle spirit hath been some years getting knowledge and words and religion to make himself fair without, that others may believe him to be a suffering saint, and one of these little things arises in his way, which discover him to be a devouring wolf in a moment; may not the wise then truly say the weakness of God is greater than the wisdom of men, and God hath chosen foolish things to confound the wise? And now the Scripture is fulfilled to your face whether you (seeing) can perceive or no, and the rock of offense is laid, and the stone of stumbling though he be refused. And he is come whom we have looked for, in the thousands of his saints, and the head over his church, and his body65 he is preparing daily that the Father's will may be done in earth, and that he may take vengeance of them that know him not, nor will receive his testimony, who will not believe his light that now shineth, but take pleasure in unrighteousness, though he be come after their own preaching, and many are his witnesses at his66 day; glory to his brightness, and let the Son arise and reign forever in whom alone the Scriptures are now fulfilling, and the builders reject him, and the wicked make prey upon him where he turns from iniquity, and the spoiling of goods is suffered joyfully, and the havoc is made of the church, and he is taken from prison and from judgment, and the reproach of many he bears, and the back is given to the smiter, and he that sues at the law for the coat may take the cloak also, & he that would have the hat take the head and body also without resisting, and prayers and tears is shed for them that hate and despitefully use him, and goods are taken away and not asked again, & this is our beloved, and this is his voice, and his sheep knows it and follows him, and thus it is written of him, and thus it is now read; and glory to him that liveth and reigneth forever, who was and is, and is come.
Woe unto you ranters of all sorts; the day of your torment approacheth, your cup is almost full; your time draws near an <125> end, you are fed, you are grown full for the slaughter, your swelling is reached up to heaven, and the burden of the innocent and just one in you cries on high; above all people you have dealt evil with the Lord, and treacherously betrayed the tender proffer of his Spirit, you have murdered the babe in the womb, and he hath not resisted but entreated. How many gentle reproofs hath he visited you with? And with what love and faithfulness hath he followed you from one of your evils to another, calling to you in secret, in season and out of season, before the act of your wickedness, in the act of it and after you have done it? If by any means he might have overtaken you and prevented your ruin, and won you again, that he might have done you good and saved you from the paths of the destroyer, all which is written where it cannot be rooted out against the day of vengeance, although you have done what you can to stop the mouth of God's witness in you, and to stifle the Just lest he should reprove you, or give you light in your dark bypaths, wherein you have walked towards the Lord as wild colts and fed horses, refusing his teachings or corrections, strengthening one another against the faithful witness of truth when you have been wounded therewith, and have belied the Lord, and said it is not he, and if it be he let him make me better, and I cannot make myself, and if the devil be in me let him cast him out, and that sin and righteousness is all one to God, and many of you openly denying God, and much more such blasphemies out of you hath proceeded, all which the innocent Lamb hath borne since the day he first invited you, and the just Lord who is in the midst of you hath seen it, and of you he will take revenge for the innocent one's sake, whom he will ease of his enemy.
Oh the terrible day that I have seen approaching towards you, and the mistery67 that is coming nigh when you shall be dealt withal, as you have done against the meek and the holy seed, which hath stirred in you unto life, which you have betrayed and murdered for your lusts, treacherously have dealt and treacherously will you be dealt withal; then shall you know that there is a God of power and judgment, when you shall be as a mad bull in a net, and the fire of God underneath you, then shall you choose death and it shall fly from you, who have refused the way of life and <126> puffed at it; and you who have scorned the light shall know chains of darkness. Ah, how have you mocked at reproof, the Lord hath heard your light answers, and hath borne your mockings, and you have made him to serve under your lusts; he is oppressed and grieved, and broken with your whorish hearts, and you have made heavy the burden of the meek and lowly, against whom you have sported, and have not considered that all this is against your own souls, and to make strong bonds for your own necks, which you must know and feel when the just arises to plead against you for all that is written against you. Verily dread is upon me when I behold your end, and the way you have to go, and how few there are to be saved. Alas for you, how have you heaped deceit and filled your vessels with that which the pure God abhors? You have eaten and drunken your own damnation while you have served your lusts, you have chosen deceit rather than truth, and therewith shall you be deceived when you look for rest; you have got words and sought out cunning ways to stop the way of judgment in you, therefore is your cup become full for condemnation from the Lord God of power, you are filled with the names of blasphemy against the Most High. Yea it is written, "He hath marked you out, he hath set himself against you, and while you are building a wall of falsehood is he preparing destruction, and is watching over you for evil and not for good, and your wall you have made of cunning deceits will stand betwixt you and salvation, and keep you from finding the place of repentance."
And you high-minded professors also who have gotten the wisdom of words, and have preached high things of God and Christ, which in you is not wrought nor fulfilled but is a lie; this will be required at your hands with truth, and your own words shall arise against you in judgment, and when you should come to him that should answer in your behalf, your wisdom and knowledge which you have got in that nature which hath oppressed him will stand in your way as thick darkness which you cannot remove nor pass; then shall you curse your God who hath set you on preaching words above life, and lies by which the Spirit of Truth in you and others have suffered and been denied, and God's witness lie waste, and been resisted in its gentle calls, motions and reproofs. All which a just hand and unresistible will bring upon you, in that day when chains of darkness hath compassed you in the horrible pit.<127>
You that call the children of light blasphemers and seducers, and many evil names you give out to people against them because they preach Christ the light of the world, and Christ for righteousness and perfection, &c. Hear what blasphemy and seducing and deceiving is, and who are the deceivers.
They were blasphemers who said they were Jews and were not, and this was blasphemy in God's account: To profess in words what they were not in works (Rev. 2:9). And they were blasphemers who said he that wrought the works of righteousness was of the devil (Mark 3:22,28-30). And James said they blasphemed that holy name by which the saints were called, who drew them before judgment seats and oppressed them (Jas. 2:6-7). And Saul blasphemed in persecuting for conscience towards Christ. Now this God calls blasphemy: falsely to take upon them the name of a Jew, seeing the Jews were to be a holy people to the Lord, and to bear his holy name before all the world in righteousness and truth, and the fruits of his Spirit; which name they who had not the life did blaspheme, by taking the name of a Jew. And Christ calls it blasphemy, to condemn the fruits of that Spirit to be of the devil. And the apostles calls it blasphemy, to hale before the judgment seats, and persecute the poor that God had chosen out of the world. These were the old blasphemers in God's account; and their children be in the same steps till this day, and therein the truth finds them and uncovers them.
So come to your rule, and be tried as you are in deed and not in words, in God's account, and not in your own. This is the blasphemy, to say you are Christians, and are not; to say you are in Christ, and are not; to say you are of God, and do the works of the devil that old murderer and persecutor; to say such as do the works of God are blasphemers, and to oppress your brethren for conscience sake. And this blasphemy exceeds your fathers, by how much the name of Christ excels the name of a Jew. Will you bring forth the abominable fruits that God hates, and cover them with the name of Christ, and father them upon the Spirit of Christ, and say you are in Christ, and redeemed, and baptized into him, and have communion in him, and get up likenesses and imitations from the letter to cover you with in a nature contrary to Christ? And is not this the height of deceit and blasphemy?<128>
What! is the name of Christ, and the redemption of Christ, the death of Christ, the baptism of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, the communion of Christ, and the words of Christ become a cloak for the works of wickedness? And doth not this blaspheme his name, his words, his Spirit, his ordinances, and his people, and all his holy things, and cause them to be blasphemed amongst the heathen, and throughout the world? But to preach Christ the light of the world, and to confess him in us, so far as we feel the power of his Spirit taking us out of the power of sin and conforming us to himself, and to bring forth the fruits of his Spirit in truth and righteousness; this doth not blaspheme, but in such he is honored, who show forth his virtues and walk in his Spirit, such exalt his name; this was Paul's work when he had left off to blaspheme.
Now come to your rule and be tried; it tells you who are Christ's and who are antichrists, deceivers and blasphemers, and they are known by their works and not by their words. It saith, "They that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts"; and "if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin"; and "as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ"; and "as you have received Christ Jesus, so walk in him"; and "he that saith he abideth in him ought himself to walk even as he walked"; and "ye are all one in Christ Jesus"; and "if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature, and all things are of God"; and "he that saith he knows Christ and keeps not his commandments is a liar"; and this is the blasphemer, who covers himself with the words of truth but is an enemy to the life.
Now here is the testimony of truth; lay it to the testimony of your lives, and measure yourselves therewith, and we will measure ourselves therewith also. And let truth judge the deceiver and liar and blasphemer by his fruits, and where he hath his seat. What will truth say where covetousness is found? Have such crucified the affections? Have proud men crucified their lusts? Have wantons crucified the flesh? Have swearers, liars, and cursed speakers put off the body of sin? Or is it dead where these works are alive, where there is envy, strife, suits and contentions? Is this to put on Christ, or to be all one in him? Where flattering, scorning, backbiting, and slandering is, and the vessels filled with such wickedness, are all things of God? And are such <129> baptized into his death, or planted into his resurrection? And are not they blasphemers who persecute others for conscience towards God? But to preach Christ to be the light of the world, and the hope of glory in the saints, our life, our righteousness and perfection, and to suffer for it, is not blasphemy.
Now here is your measure, and with truth are you measured, weighed, and tried: your baptisms, your communion, your redemption, your death and resurrection, and your life eternal. And in the light you and we are seen, and with the life thereof you are found (who bring forth these fruits) to be under the power of sin, unredeemed, and out of Christ the life, deceiving your own souls and others of the righteous inheritance amongst them that are sanctified, and blaspheming the holy name of Christ, and grieving his holy Spirit by professing that in his name which you have not, and by your evil deeds acted under his name whereby it is polluted, which was not given for a cover to such works.
In this holy name of Christ hath God placed his covenant and life, and in these holy things did holy men and women meet with God, worship him and dwell with him in Spirit, as his house, in which he was seen and walked. And are these now become a cover for a den of thieves, a habitation and hiding for all the abominations now acted in the world? Is not this the height of blasphemy and deceit, thus to profane his holy name and turn it into a lie, as though all these abominable things were therein, or that he owned such as live in them?
Now lay your words and your works in the true balance, and weigh them with the words of life and power of his name and measure of truth and honesty, and lie not against the truth. But you that are under the power of these wickednesses, and in bondage thereto, who see (and are not ashamed to say) you cannot but commit these abominations while you live, do not lie against the work of Christ in saying he hath redeemed you, when you are yet in this bondage; neither count his blood an unholy thing, in saying you are washed, nor his work imperfect, nor mix it with the work of the devil; but give to each his own, that thereby they may be known, and in what name everything is wrought. For now is truth come to try you, and he is appearing who will have his own, and nothing but his own, under what pretense soever. Now is the heir of righteousness come to seek the fruit of his own; stand still <130> you that use those high words against others, and see how the Lord is dealt with amongst you at this day. Did not he plant a holy vine to bring forth to himself of his own nature and image? And have you let this be overrun with weeds while you have been asleep in your sloth and idleness, cares & pleasures of the world, till all be filled with briars and thorns, and corrupt plants that now are spread and bring forth? And now the Lord is come who is the light of the world, to seek fruits of his own, and will you hold him forth these cursed fruits, and cover them with his name, as though they were his, and seek to force them upon him whether he will or no, and fall violently upon him if he deny them?
Now if this be not so, what means this: that when anyone in his name is sent to reprove sin in the streets or markets where it abounds, and in the name of Christ to declare against false worships never set up by him (which hath been his manner in all his appearances) and to call for what is his own, and to deny the works of the devil, that presently all is in an uproar, and a tumult raised, pulling and beating and haling to prison, beaten in markets, beaten in your synagogues, shamefully entreated in your streets, and all for no other offense but because he calls for his own and denies what is not of him? Doth not this blaspheme that holy name by which they are called and which yourselves profess? Teacher cries away with him, and tumult cries away with him, it's not fit he should live. And what usage he receives from you in his members is openly seen, and God is daily bringing your works to light. Now let the wise in heart, who can discern the signs of the times, read, if the parable be not fulfilled upon you husbandmen. And will you gild this cup over with fine words, forms and professions, and call them deceivers and blasphemers, who in love to your souls and obedience to Christ tells you of it and testifies against it, in all longsuffering and patience? Who will be found the deceivers and the deceived when your gilded covers comes to be pulled off and you must drink of the cup yourselves as you have filled? and this is certainly near at hand to come upon you, and you are hasting towards it apace, your cup is almost full and with the light are you seen. Hath not the Lamb set up his testimony against you almost in every place of the nation? How many towns have you in which the innocent have not suffered violence for crying against sin, in the name <131> of Christ, calling for the fruits of righteousness? How many prisons have you that do not speak your cruelty? How many counties have you in which innocent blood hath not been shed, which daily speaks? How many of your synagogues have the children of light borne witness in against your evil ways, wherein they have been beaten, haled, pulled and punished? And all this you drink up as a thing of naught, and are yet thirstier than at first. Are these the works of Christ, or of the old murderer?
Wherefore cease to blaspheme, for you are measured by that which will not lie, and with your own rule are you found in the works of the old deceiver and the old persecutors, and in their opposition and blasphemy against the holy Spirit, where it testifies against your evil deeds. So seeing you are found in the works of the old persecutors, and in their nature, take to you their name, for that is truth, and will be your inheritance amongst them; and cease to blaspheme the name of Christ by taking it upon you to cover these abominations and hide your sin from your own eyes, and so deceive your own souls, and others that are blind; but who comes in the name of Christ comes in the light to prove you openly, and sees you, and gives light in the life of Christ for all to discern betwixt the lamb and the wolf, by their nature and not by their clothing.
Christ is the holy anointing wherewith all that are in him sees out of these things to be led, and every appearance of his from Cain the first murderer till this day declares these to be the works of the devil, and by works of a contrary nature doth witness against them. In which life he is the light of the world, who though he be in the midst of God's throne (seen so to his own), yet as a lamb slain amongst these unclean beasts, shining forth in the life of meekness, holiness, patience and longsuffering, enduring all things from his enemies; which light and life, though to the wisdom of the wise world it appears poor, base and contemptible, and therefore by the builders rejected, yet it is full of grace and truth, and hath power with God over the devil, and all these his works, and by faith in his name, and by the virtue of his nature all that are in him bear his68 testimony against the world's works and nature: for in that name is God's covenant of life and peace, and the <132> ark of his strength and safety in the great destruction that is to come upon the world for these things: and he is ever at the arm of God's strength and sits at his right hand in heavenly places, and with him to gather and save his elect from the ends of the earth; and by his sufferings to redeem them from under these ungodly powers, and to break the bonds of iniquity; and therefore they who are gathered into this name holds it as a holy power and dare not blaspheme it, but say, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity, which name to such is salvation and strength and righteousness, meekness and peace.
Ah, blind people, that have eyes and see not! What is become of your profession of names, your forms and ordinances? and how is God departed out of all (as to you), and your house is become desolate, and where light, truth and peace should dwell, it's become a habitation of devourers, a place of owls and dragons and night birds and beasts of prey? such spirits rule in all your holy things in which you trust. You cry the name of Christ, but see not, nor is your eye anointed; you cry the name of Jesus but are not saved from your sins; you cry Christ is your king but have not peace; you cry great is the Lord with your lips, but the devil prevails in your hearts and carries you captive at his will, contrary to the will of the Lord. So you have got the words of saints, but the life you have lost; sheep in words but wolves in nature; and so are in the gall of bitterness against such as retain the power of what you profess. Now are not these vain words you trust in, which doth not save? This is the deceiver you tell on, who makes people believe in a lie, and now he is found in your own bosom; blessed be the day which hath brought his works to light, glory to God forevermore. Wherefore let not your own thoughts deceive you and lead you to cast upon others that which in yourselves is found, but leave your vain and evil thoughts of others and judge your own selves with the light of life, and measure your works with truth and not with thoughts. Did not they that persecuted the prophets think they did God service? And they that persecuted Christ thought the same; and they that persecuted the apostles and saints of old knew not that they persecuted Christ Jesus, but thought they did well to punish heretics and blasphemers; and they that slew the martyrs were of the same spirit and so of the same mind. And now come to <133> yourselves and your thoughts in this your work, which is the same at this day, and many of you have the same thoughts, though some of you act clearly against what you see and so exceed all your forefathers; and now see who are deceivers and blasphemers, and where the Lamb is led to the slaughter.
Ah, you teachers of these nations, should you thus have used your liberty you had given of God from under the dark power that ruled (in part) in the bishops, under which some of you suffered? Was it not then in your hearts, that if you had but liberty, you would go on to the rooting out of the relics of popery and idol worships and persecution? Should you not have gone on with singleness of heart, as you had liberty, to the end? Then had you been faithful to God and the nations; then had you been as openers of the holy paths for men to walk in and breakers of oppression, and men should have called you the blessed of God; then had you not inherited this cursed thing set up by your fathers the old persecutors and oppressors (whose children you are now found to appear), then had you not been at this day found fighting for their fat benefits which spewed them out; suing your people for tithes, pigs, geese, smoke,69 and suchlike trash, haling poor people to prison and spoiling their houses and lands for your bellies: you had been at this day in a more honorable work than raking in these dunghills. The Lord should not have needed to have called your own hearers from under your elbows and sent them against you into your meetings to declare your shame openly, and to cast this dung in your faces, laying open your deceitful works and worships which falls so heavy upon you that you have not strength left to stand before the guilt thereof, nor have any defense, but either to fly or cry out to the earthly powers to help you against him who is now become your adversary. It was not thus with you while you were sufferers for standing faithful to what you then knew of God's new work. I appeal to that of God in your own consciences, if then a silly boy or girl, or man or woman had asked you a question concerning your doctrine or manners, if you would have used either your feet to fly, or your hand to smite, or cried, Away with him, Officer take him to prison, Magistrate make a law against him. <134> Queen Mary's acts were then abomination to you; you had then another weapon, even a measure of the Spirit to inform the weak with meekness & to convince gainsayers. But then you were sufferers yourselves for your conscience, and so the case is changed with you and the Spirit also, as far as the sufferer is from the persecutor. Only here the deceiver keeps you blind, in that you keep the old form you then had, but possessed with another spirit. So your sticking in the form hath deceived you of the suffering Spirit and the power of meekness, which had you been led by the Spirit of the Lamb, you had been at this day in the fellowship of his sufferings, not tormenters of those that are. Have not I heard some of you in public declare that if a church had persecution in it for conscience sake upon any account whatsoever, it needed no further trial to prove it to be of the devil, and not of the church of Christ. But since the same person (though no mean one of account amongst the finest sort of teachers) have commanded them to prison who came but into the synagogue and spoke not one word. Alas for your souls! how are you fallen under the cursed thing, that you should be they who are left to fill up the measure of what the bishops came short of. Ah! how are you to be pitied? Will not your cutting them off rise against you? And will not God avenge their blood upon you, seeing you have condemned their persons but justify the things for which they were cut off, by adding manifold thereto of the same nature? God is judge this day, and his light in your hearts, how you have dealt with him & his inheritance, whom you should have led70 out of these things, going before them71 into the kingdom of God; but are now found in the work of gainsaying such as are coming out of darkness into light, neither entering yourselves, nor suffering them that would. So let truth forever stand upon the head of the deceiver and blasphemer, and let such as are seduced by them be therewithal delivered. And blessed be the Lamb forever, whose life is this day become a light to divide the sheep from the wolves, that he may come to judgment.
1. Whitehead inserts "only" (but only on the Errata page).
2. W. changes "that head" to "him."
3. W. changes "And so" to "As if."
4. Whitehead changes "the age thereof" to "this age."
5. Whitehead changes "of" to "in."
6. Whitehead changes "that eye" to "my own eye, and that."
7. Whitehead changes "vessel" to "body."
8. W. changes "break" to "destroy."
9. Whitehead changes "Christ never believed that he" to "it is not the faith of Christ, to believe that men."
10. Whitehead changes "he could commit sin and not be the servant" to "we could commit sin, and not be servants."
11. Whitehead changes "visible" to "carnal."
12. Whitehead omits "age."
13. Whitehead omits "of Elias."
14. Whitehead changes "the purchased possession was not yet redeemed for me to enjoy at present" to "was not I at present brought to enjoy the purchased possession."
15. Whitehead changes "whom" to "which."
16. W. changes "any within or without" to "(works of righteousness)."
17. Whitehead inserts "of his."
18. Whitehead changes "conceit" to "notion."
19. Whitehead omits "in the flesh."
20. W. changes "temples" to "servants."
21. Whitehead changes "grow to" to "receive."
22. W. changes "likeliness" to "likeness."
23. W. omits "so."
24. W. inserts "of."
25. Whitehead changes "which" to "whom."
26. Whitehead changes "good" to "God."
27. Whitehead inserts "gift."
28. Whitehead changes "could" to "would."
29. Whitehead changes "I have" to "have I."
30. Whitehead omits "natural."
31. Whitehead inserts "in the."
32. Whitehead omits "only."
33. Whitehead changes "and the flesh is the veil with which he was ever hid" to "though veiled."
34. Whitehead changes "desired to know no man after the flesh to set up or to worship" to "desire to know and worship him."
35. W. changes "what vessel is" to "who are."
36. W. deletes "that Spirit."
37. Whitehead changes "is arising to his day" to "his day is arising."
38. Whitehead changes "born of the Spirit" to "to rule."
39. W. changes "savior" to "ruler."
40. Whitehead changes "prayers" to "praise."
41. W. changes "whatever was the vessel" to "whosever was the instrument."
42. Whitehead inserts "brought to see."
43. Whitehead inserts "Christ."
44. Whitehead changes "his age and stature and appearance" to "the measure of his stature and fullness."
45. Whitehead changes "Is not all that reprobate who knows not Christ in you?" to "Are not all those reprobate who know not Christ in them?"
46. Whitehead omits "once."
47. Whitehead changes "which" to "and as if."
48. Whitehead changes "are far too short for you to accomplish, but" to "were not sufficient for you to accomplish your ends."
49. Whitehead changes "the" to "their."
50. Whitehead omits "all."
51. Whitehead changes "Son" to "sun."
52. Whitehead changes "eye" to "guide."
53. W. changes "eye" to "light."
54. W. changes "God" to "the Holy Ghost."
55. W. changes "his" to "Christ's."
56. Whitehead changes "his temple" to "him."
57. Whitehead inserts "and."
58. Whitehead inserts "made."
59. Whitehead omits "and blood."
60. W. changes "temples" to "servants."
61. Whitehead changes "and" to "under."
62. Whitehead omits "not."
63. Whitehead changes "sends" to "sent."
64. W. omits "to lay down his life in."
65. Whitehead inserts "or church."
66. Whitehead changes "his" to "this."
67. Thus spelled in 1659 edition. Whitehead renders it "misery."
68. Whitehead changes "his" to "their."
69. Whitehead changes "smoke" to "smoke-penny."
70. Whitehead changes "whom you should have led" to "by which you should have been led."
71. Whitehead omits "going before them."